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Carbajal Jabs at 'Excuses' : Boxing: Champion vows punching power will take out Humberto Gonzalez again in rematch tonight.


No retreats, few regrets, one rematch.

Last March 13, Michael Carbajal arose from the canvas twice to score a seventh-round knockout of Humberto (Chiquita) Gonzalez.

It was a battle of light-flyweight champions that scorched the Las Vegas Hilton ring and allowed Carbajal to retain his International Boxing Federation title and take the World Boxing Council version from Gonzalez.

On a 5 p.m. Las Vegas-quality fight card today at the Forum that also features an attractive grudge match between IBF lightweight champion Freddie Pendleton and No. 1 contender Rafael Ruelas of Sylmar, the Carbajal-Gonzalez rematch dominates.

Can this bout, probably Los Angeles' biggest in 15 years, possibly be as good as their first? And how does Gonzalez, who controlled most of the fight until he was floored by a dramatic Carbajal left hook, avoid another Carbajal crash course this time?

Gonzalez (37-2, 26 knockouts) blames a poor training regimen for the loss and has come into this fight looking trimmer, sounding surer and explaining that his mediocre conditioning exposed him in the middle rounds.

He weighed in Friday night at 107 1/4 pounds, a half-pound lighter than Carbajal.

"Yes, I expect another war," Gonzalez said this week. "I expect to win. And that's why I've prepared like I have."

Gonzalez said his strategy of aggressively forcing Carbajal backward worked in the first fight, as long as Gonzalez had the energy to do it.

"Carbajal is a slugger; he's not a boxer," Gonzalez said. "Many people say he's a boxer. Maybe he used to be a boxer, but not any more.

"I don't think he's going to change. I think he is going to come to fight, like he did last time. And I personally think he is going to try to do the same thing because the last time he won by knockout. If he does the same thing, I will win by knockout."

Gonzalez points to his comeback from a shocking knockout loss to Rolando Pascua at the Forum in December 1990. Gonzalez lost the WBC title on that day, but regained it six months later by defeating Melchor Cob Castro.

The Carbajal camp scoffs at Gonzalez.

Gonzalez will get knocked out this time exactly for the same reasons he was knocked out last time, the Carbajals say: Because Carbajal (30-0, 18 KOs) hit Gonzalez harder than he hit Carbajal.

"Any time anybody loses, they always have an excuse," Carbajal said. "I don't pay attention to it. He got tired because I made him get tired--because we were throwing punches from the beginning of the first round. That's why he got tired.

"Weight problems or not, it doesn't matter, I'm still going to make him get tired."

Both sides said the Forum crowd, expected to be between 12,000 and 14,000, generating a California-record gate, will be heavily pro-Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a Mexican national who is promoted by the Forum and has had seven of his last 13 bouts there.

More than 2,000 Carbajal fans from his hometown of Phoenix are expected at the Forum, but Gonzalez adviser Rafael Mendoza said he thinks the Forum will be "90% for Chiquita."

"He needs the crowd, I know him," Mendoza said of Gonzalez. "He is better when the crowd pushes him."

But Danny Carbajal, Michael's brother and trainer, said the crowd's roars might work against Gonzalez, whose only hope, he claimed, is to stay away from his brother's inside power.

"But if he tries to box and move around and not come in at Michael, his fans are going to boo the hell out of him," Danny Carbajal said. "They're going to say to him, 'Hey, you're from Mexico, you better get in there.'

"The pressure is on him. He's going to have to stand and fight. That's to Michael's advantage."

In the featured undercard fight, the 31-year-old Pendleton (35-18-4, 23 KOs) is making the second defense of a title he won in early 1993.

Pendleton, 18-3-1 in his last 22 fights, including a disqualification for failing to return to his corner in a non-title bout last December against Ed Pollard, has come from Miami talking loudly and carrying a load of experience.

Pendleton's first title defense was a decision over Jorge Paez, who had earlier been knocked out by Ruelas, and possibly his best losing effort occurred when he was decisioned by then-IBF and WBC lightweight champion Pernell Whitaker on Feb. 3, 1990.

For the 22-year-old Ruelas (39-1, 31 KOs), this is a contest between his youth and considerable punching power, and Pendleton's quickness and savvy.

Both weighed in at 135 pounds.

Also on the card: Paez (50-6-4, 34 KOs) vs. Andres Sandoval (41-16-1, 36 KOs) in a lightweight bout, and Scotty Olson (28-1, 22 KOs) vs. Jorge Roman (15-9-2, 8 KOs) in a flyweight bout.

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