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NOTES

Morales Is Ready to Put on Some Weight

May 04, 2003|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — After easily defending his World Boxing Council featherweight title in the semi-main main event Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Erik Morales announced that he had thrown his last punch in the 126-pound division.

If so, Morales went out with a virtuoso performance against a courageous but clearly outclassed opponent.

Morales (44-1, 33 knockouts) knocked Fernando "Bobby Boy" Velardez (24-5-1, six) down four times, once in the first round, twice in the fourth and once in the fifth, before referee Kenny Bayless wisely stepped in to stop the fight. Bayless didn't even bother to count after the final knockdown, stopping the match at the 2:01 mark.

Morales had struggled to make weight. After coming in a pound over at the weigh-in, he needed an additional 90 minutes to get down to the required level.

Morales said he would still like to fight Marco Antonio Barrera -- the two split their two previous matches, each winning a controversial decision -- but would only do so at 128 pounds.

In the first of the evening's three championship matches, Jorge Arce (34-3-1, 25) won a controversial technical decision over Melchor Cob-Castro (66-9-4, 30) to defend his WBC light-flyweight title.

The fight was stopped after the sixth round because of a deep cut over Arce's left eye, caused by an accidental head butt. All three judges had Arce ahead even though he was knocked down in the third round.

"Arce was looking for a way out of the fight," said Cob-Castro. "I know he asked his corner to stop the fight. I was fighting my fight. There were really no problems."

*

An agreement has been reached for heavyweight Vitali Klitschko to fight in the semi-main event against a still-undetermined opponent June 21 at Staples Center, preceding the match between heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and Kirk Johnson.

Lawyers were reviewing the contract Saturday night with an official announcement expected no later than Monday.

It's a two-fight deal for Klitschko, with the second match against the winner of Lewis-Johnson.

*

In an afternoon match held at the Flamingo hotel, 2000 Olympic silver medalist Rocky Juarez improved to 16-0 with 12 knockouts by beating fellow featherweight Frank Archuleta (22-4-1, 13) on a sixth-round TKO. Archuleta was down twice in the match before it was stopped at the 2:39 mark of the sixth.

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