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N'dou Batters Vargas, Eyes Shot at Mayweather

June 22, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

Phillip N'dou entered the ring Saturday night wearing luminous white trunks that gleamed under the Staples Center lights. The South African junior-lightweight left with them covered in crimson.

Good thing for N'dou that the blood was not his.

The speedy and hard-hitting N'dou punished a game but badly outclassed Yoni Vargas early and often, opening a nasty cut over his left eye midway through the first round on the undercard of the Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko heavyweight championship fight.

N'dou, who hit Vargas at will with right hooks and body punches, was credited with a knockout to improve to 31-1 with 30 KOs when Vargas (24-5) did not answer the bell for the fifth round.

"He's a strong boy," N'dou said. "I threw my best punches and he stood there and took them.

"I knew his corner was going to stop it. They had to. The boy was getting punished."

N'dou, who weighed in at 134 1/2 pounds, is the World Boxing Council's No. 2-ranked 130-pounder and is hoping for a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr. The Vargas bout was just his fourth fight in the U.S., where he wants to continue to compete and spread his reputation.

"I'm hoping it's not too long before I can get that championship fight," said N'dou, whose loss was a third-round TKO to Anthony Campbell in London on Nov. 21, 1998. "I'm not afraid of any fighter."

In another bout, Lucia Rijker, recognized as the best women's boxer in the world, was taken the distance for just the second time in her career.

Rijker (16-0) won a dominating unanimous decision over Jane Couch (19-5), winning all eight rounds of the junior-middleweight fight on all three judges' scorecards.

In another women's fight, Laila Ali (15-0, 12) successfully defended her super-middleweight title in a rematch with Valerie Mahfood.

Ali, the second youngest of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali's nine children, started slowly but caught up to the purple-Mohawked Mahfood (13-6) in the sixth round, chasing her around the ring with a barrage of punches before catching her on the ropes. Referee David Mendoza stopped the fight at 1:17 of the round.

Also on the undercard: North American Boxing Organization featherweight champ William Abelyan (23-4-1, 12) stopped Alejandro Estrada (26-3-3) in the third round; super-middleweight Bert Schenk (33-1, 21) had a sixth-round TKO of Leonard Townsend (37-15-1); and heavyweight Samuel Peter (14-0, 13) beat Lyle McDowell (27-10-1) with a fourth-round TKO.


With Oscar De La Hoya now in his corner, featherweight Marco Antonio Barrera says he wants to fight twice more this year before taking on Erik Morales in a rubber match early next year. Although he does not yet have an opponent or a site for his next fight, Barrera hopes to get back in the ring Sept. 20.

Barrera spoke Saturday at a news conference to formally announce he has signed with De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions on a fight-by-fight basis.

Stephen Espinoza, attorney for both Barrera and De La Hoya, said Barrera's agreements with promoter John Jackson of Forum Boxing and manager Ricardo Maldonado are "terminated."

Espinoza said legal proceedings will determine whether those contracts were broken "fairly or unfairly."

Barrera and Morales split their two previous fights, each winning a controversial decision.

Times staff writer Steve Springer contributed to this report.

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