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Despite Injured Hand, Liles Stops McKenzie in Eighth


IRVINE — Although Frankie Liles was rusty and had an injured left hand, he stopped an awkward Cecil McKenzie on cuts at 2 minutes 30 seconds of the eighth round Thursday night in front of 1,140 at the Irvine Marriott.

Liles (23-1, 17 knockouts), the North American Boxing Federation's super middleweight champion from Van Nuys, knocked down McKenzie (6-3) of San Jose in the first round with a straight right hand, but then struggled the rest of the night to land effective punches.

Liles, coming off a nine-month layoff, was sent into the ropes and down at the end of Round 2. Referee Chuck Hassett ruled it a slip instead of knockdown.

"He was stronger than I thought he was," said Liles, who is hoping for a shot at IBF champion Michael Nunn. "I made a couple mistakes and he did what he was supposed to do."

From there, Liles controlled the fight but could never put together a combination or unleash his left hand, which he injured during his last fight in October, 1992. But he opened a cut over McKenzie's left eye in Round 7 and the eye was nearly shut by the end of the eighth.

"It hurt a little," Liles said of his left hand. "I felt sluggish. I had to lose a couple pounds (Thursday) and it took me awhile to loosen up."

In the main undercard fight, middleweight Rodney Toney (8-0-1) of Campo won a split six-round decision over Kenny Whack (11-2) of North Hollywood. Neither fighter was especially impressive, but Toney landed more punches, most of them to the body.

Promoter Jim Browning announced that Rafael Ruelas, the No. 1 lightweight in two organizations, will headline the Aug. 19 card at the Marriott.

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