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BOXING

Hernandez Ends Two Cuts Above

October 06, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

Carlos Hernandez was bleeding from his nose and from nasty gashes above each eye. Yet, the International Boxing Federation junior-lightweight champion from Bellflower, whose El Salvador roots make him the first Salvadoran world champion, wore the happiest face in Staples Center late Saturday night.

Hernandez had successfully defended his 130-pound title when his bout against Steve Forbes was stopped after the 10th round because of the cuts Hernandez had suffered from accidental head butts. The decision went to the scorecards and Hernandez led on all three -- 97-93, 98-92 and 97-94.

Hernandez's fight was the last of a late-starting, seven-bout card headlined by three-time world champion Erik Morales, who knocked out Guty Espadas in the third round of a World Boxing Council super-featherweight eliminator.

Forbes (23-2) of Portland, Ore., proved to be a more-than-game opponent for Hernandez (40-3-1), taking the fight inside with a surprising slug-it-out strategy.

"I thought he was going to run around a little more but he stayed there," Hernandez said after his first defense of the title he took from David Santos on Feb. 1 in Las Vegas.

"I was surprised [by Forbes]. He threw a lot of good body shots and he caught me with an uppercut in the first round. I think he broke my nose. It's the first time I've ever bled through my nose and the first time I've ever been cut twice. I can't believe it."

Hernandez began bleeding profusely from his left nostril in the second round and Forbes stunned him in the fourth round with a left hook that nearly had Hernandez out on his feet.

Two rounds later, a Forbes head butt opened a cut above Hernandez's left eye.

In the closing seconds of the 10th round, the two banged heads again, opening a deep cut over Hernandez's right eye, prompting referee Pat Russell to call the fight.

"I could see the bone," Hernandez cornerman Miguel Diaz said.

According to the CompuBox numbers, Hernandez was busier, though Forbes was more efficient. Hernandez landed 271 of 845 punches (32%) and Forbes connected on 285 of 698 (41%).

"It looked like I was hurt because he caught me off guard," Hernandez said.

*

Times staff writer Mike Terry contributed to this report.

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