Juan Manuel Marquez endured a classic battle with Michael Katsidis on Saturday, retaining his lightweight world title with a ninth-round onslaught of punches that caused referee Kenny Bayless to stop the fight.
Mexico's Marquez battered the Australian challenger in the ninth round, landing hard uppercuts and hard rights that went mostly unanswered.
When Katsidis backed up and took two more rights to the left side of his head, Bayless stepped in at the 2-minute 14-second mark, waving off the bout in front of 4,920 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"I got caught at the end of the fight," Katsidis, 30, said before making a precautionary trip to a hospital. "He has a lot of experience, and he's stronger than me."
Katsidis (27-3) knocked down Marquez, 37, in the third round and worked to pressure him.
"I always knew it was in the cards to knock him down," Katsidis said of a stunning left that decked Marquez.
However, Marquez connected on 327 punches to Katsidis' 194.
Marquez's ability to withstand such pain is well known — he once survived three first-round knockdowns against Manny Pacquiao to rally for a draw — and he reasserted his reputation by rallying again, hitting Katsidis with five hard blows at the end of the third.
"I didn't protect myself," Marquez said of the third round. "He's a very difficult fighter. He has a lot of resistance, and is valiant, but I knew how to manage the fight with my combinations and conditioning."
Marquez's jabs also damaged Katsidis, causing his right eye to swell in the second half.
All three judges had Marquez leading — 78-74, 77-74 and 76-75 — when the bout was stopped.
Marquez improved to 52-5-1 with 38 knockouts and continued his quest to be the next man to fight Pacquiao, who beat Marquez by split decision in the rematch of the 2004 draw.
"The third one is the one the public wants to see," Marquez said. "I've been beating opponent after opponent."
Anyone within a weight class or three wants to be Pacquiao's next opponent, so with a first-round technical knockout like Andre Berto's earlier Saturday, you knew what was coming.
"I've eaten all my appetizers, I'm ready for the main course," welterweight world champion Berto (27-0, 21 KOs) said after disposing of Lynwood's Freddy Hernandez.
Berto, retaining his World Boxing Council belt for the fourth time, backed up Hernandez (29-2) with a soft left, then unloaded a devastating right to the jaw.
"I'm the best available fighter for Pacquiao," Berto said.