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Nelson Retains Title With Draw Against Fenech

June 29, 1991|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — Australian Jeff Fenech and Ghanan Azumah Nelson battled to a 12-round super-featherweight championship draw on Friday's Tyson-Ruddock undercard. The decision enabled Nelson to retain his title.

Judge Jerry Roth of Las Vegas had Fenech ahead, 115-113, but Miguel Donate of Puerto Rico had Nelson, 116-112. Dave Moretti of Las Vegas had it 114-114. The Times card had Fenech winning, 118-110.

Fenech looked like the loser at the finish, with two facial cuts and swollen eyes. But at the announcement of the draw, he stormed about the ring in a rage. The crowd, which had minutes earlier accorded both fighters a standing ovation, voiced its disapproval.

Fenech, 27, inactive the past 17 months because of hand injuries and fighting in the United States for the first time as a pro, was up against a 32-year-old World Boxing Council champion who is now 33-2-1 but who had lost only to Pernell Whitaker in the last nine years. It was Nelson's 15th championship fight.

There were no knockdowns in the fight, but Fenech (25-0-1) body-slammed Nelson at the bell to end the ninth round. Nelson, like a quarterback being sacked, was knocked up into the air and landed on his back.

In another featured bout, heavyweight contender Riddick Bowe stopped Rodolfo Marin in the second round.

Marin, of Puerto Rico, was overmatched from the opening bell. The 6-foot-5 Bowe pounded Marin with a left jab from the opening bell.

After a round, Bowe hadn't missed once with his jab.

In the first minute of the second round, Bowe hurt Marin at close quarters with a left hook and a right uppercut. With the slow-footed Marin backing up, Bowe finished him in the second with a right and left to the head.

Marin (17-2) crumpled to his knees, rose shakily at the nine-count with a bad cut under his left eye, but referee Carlos Padilla waved off Bowe.

Marin's jaw was broken in two places and he was hospitalized.

Bowe (24-0) is very much in the heavyweight championship picture. If champion Evander Holyfield doesn't fight Mike Tyson next, and Tyson promoter Don King can't match George Foreman with Tyson, Bowe could conceivably be Tyson's next opponent.

In his previous fight, Bowe struggled to get a close decision over Tony Tubbs in Atlantic City, N.J., and didn't look ready for Tyson. But Bowe, like Buster Douglas, has the one punch that could give the much shorter Tyson problems--a strong left jab.

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