SAN DIEGO — Terry Norris was slow getting under way, but eventually wore down challenger Carl Daniels before 6,182 in the San Diego Sports Arena Saturday and successfully defended his junior-middleweight championship for the seventh time.
For the first two rounds, Daniels (26-1) seemed to be a serious threat to Norris' World Boxing Council championship. And although Norris never really stopped the previously unbeaten, left-handed Daniels' soft right jab, his superior conditioning wore down the fifth-ranked Daniels.
Norris knocked Daniels down at 2:27 of the ninth round, and referee Lou Filippo stopped the fight, the first of what is projected to be monthly boxing shows at the Sports Arena. Saturday's live gate was nearly $200,000, according to promoter Dan Goossen. Norris (31-3), who won his 10th consecutive fight since he was stopped by Julian Jackson in 1989, now moves on to Paris, where on May 30 he will box Aaron Davis for a purse of $450,000. Norris earned $150,000 Saturday.
Also Saturday, junior-lightweight Gabriel Ruelas improved to 28-1 with possibly his best performance as a pro--an eight-round decision over Tommy Valdez (32-13-1) of Tucson.
And former New York Jet Mark Gastineau, 35, improved to 8-0 with a 52-second, blindside knockout of Jaime Berg. Gastineau hit Berg (1-3) when he was down and then knocked him out when his back was turned, drawing boos from the crowd.
Norris seemed to take over the main event midway through the third round. Although both men weighed 152 pounds, two under the 154-pound limit, Norris was physically dominant.
Daniels' jab, which had little velocity to begin with, was merely a tap by the late rounds, more bothersome than painful.
"His jab was too quick, I couldn't slip it," Norris said. "So I walked through them. He was good. Other people underestimated him, but I didn't. I trained in the mountains for seven weeks for this fight.
"Even though he had a good first two rounds, I felt even then I could wear him down. I felt in control all the way, but he did rock me a couple of times."
Daniels, who earned $25,000, was handicapped from the mid-rounds on by a swelling under his left eye. By the time he got to the interview room, it was completely closed.
"The eye bothered me, I couldn't see his right hands," Daniels said.
"He started working on me in the third round. He was just stronger. I couldn't keep him off me, not after he started walking through my jab.
"I gave it my best shot. Maybe I'll move down to welterweight now. I'd like another shot at Terry, but not until later in my career."
Ruelas, the Ten Goose stable's junior-lightweight who wants to box the winner of the Feb. 29 Azumah Nelson-Jeff Fenech fight in Melbourne, seemed delighted that Valdez had taken him the distance.
"That was good for me, because I'd never been that busy in a fight over that many rounds," he said.