Champ staves off title threat

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terence Jun 29 AFP Terence Crawford stopped Cubas Yuriorkis Gamboa to keep his title on Saturday night. Photo: Josh Hedges

Omaha, Nebraska – Terence “Bud” Crawford stopped Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round on Saturday night to successfully defend his WBO lightweight belt in a match of unbeaten fighters.

Crawford wobbled Gamboa with a left and knocked him down with another left earlier in the ninth, then connected with a right to the chin at the 2:53 mark, prompting referee Gino Rodriguez to call the fight.

As Rodriguez waved his arms, Crawford ran to a neutral corner and jumped on the shoulders of co-manager Brian McIntyre.

“I hurt him plenty of times,” Crawford said, “so when I hurt him the last time, I was looking to finish.”

The 26-year-old Crawford (24-0, 17 knockouts) was fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional, and more than 10 000 showed up at the CenturyLink Center, many of them chanting “Craw-ford! Craw-ford!” throughout.

“I imagined everybody screaming, supporting me,” Crawford said. “It was everything I thought it was going to be.”

It was his first title defence since his 12-round unanimous decision over Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, in March. He said he plans to move up to junior welterweight after this fight. The 32-year-old Gamboa (23-1, 16 knockouts), a 2004 Olympic champion, was fighting for the first time in a year.

Crawford took control in the middle rounds. In the fifth, Crawford knocked down Gamboa with a left to the side of his head. Crawford staggered him just before the bell with a flurry of shots, bringing the crowd to its feet.

The 1.65m Gamboa, with a reach disadvantage, had trouble working inside against Crawford. When Crawford moved in, Gamboa used his superior speed to duck under him.

Crawford landed a right to Gamboa’s cheek in the second round. As the fighters went into a clinch, Gamboa put a couple quick rights to the back of Crawford’s head, drawing a warning from the referee. Gamboa landed a couple stinging shots in the third, but that he never was able to hurt Crawford.

“He caught me with a good shot in the ninth, at the beginning,” Crawford said. “It got my attention and buzzed me a little.”

Omaha hadn’t been site for a world championship fight since 1972, when Joe Frazier successfully defended his heavyweight title against Ron Stander, who was in the crowd Saturday night.

In the co-main event, WBO No 1-ranked middleweight Matt Korobov remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision over Jose Uzcatequi for that organisation’s intercontinental title.

Korobov (24-0) landed a hard left to the previously unbeaten Uzcatequi’s nose in the first round, knocked him down twice in the fifth and put him on his knees with a body blow in the ninth. The 23-year-old Uzcatequi (22-1), who had stopped his previous five opponents, was in his first professional fight outside Mexico.

In another fight, unbeaten Canadian Mikael Zewski stopped Prince Doku jr of Ghana in the third round of a scheduled 10-round bout for the NABF welterweight title. – Sapa-AP


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