- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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NEW YORK -- Brandon Rios at least got the victory.
Stripped of his lightweight title for failing to make weight, Rios stopped England's John Murray in the 11th round on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in the co-featured bout on the card headlined by the much-anticipated Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch.
Rios lost his title on the scales at Friday's weigh-in when he could not make the 135-pound limit, weighing 136.6 pounds on his final attempt. For the fight to go on, Rios had to agree to pay Murray $20,000 out of his $325,000 purse. He also needed to appear at a Saturday morning weight check at which he was not permitted to weigh more than 147 pounds, which he barely made.
Only Murray, who made weight, was eligible to win the belt, so it remains vacant even though Rios beat him.
But Rios (29-0-1, 22 KOs) worked for the victory, impressively showing energy late in the fight, even though he had looked dead at the weigh-in.
For much of the fight, they stood chest to chest and traded shots, including numerous uppercuts. Murray's nose began bleeding steadily in the fourth round, and it appeared as though it was broken.
The fight was competitive early, but Rios took over and had a big seventh round, during which referee Earl Brown also docked Murray (31-2, 18 KOs) a point for a low blow.
Rios closed the show by landing 41 of 66 power shots in the 11th round, according to CompuBox statistics.
Rios was hammering a fading Murray in the round when he connected on a right uppercut and left hook, and Brown jumped in to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 6 seconds, with Murray pinned on the ropes and not throwing back.
"Murray is a great warrior," Rios said. "He deserves a lot of respect. I'm sorry for the [bad] things I said to him before the fight."
Rios, 25, had won the belt in comeback fashion in February, knocking out Miguel Acosta in the 10th round. He defended the title in July with a third-round knockout of California rival Urbano Antillon.
Murray, 26, has lost two fights in a row. He suffered his first defeat in July, an eighth-round TKO loss to countryman Kevin Mitchell.
Rodriguez outpoints Wolak in rematch
Well, it wasn't as outstanding as their first classic fight in July, but it was another dandy -- and this time it had a clear winner.
After fighting to a majority draw in a 2011 fight of the year candidate, junior middleweight Delvin Rodriguez (25-6-3, 14 KOs) took a convincing 10-round unanimous decision against Pawel Wolak (29-2-1, 19 KOs) in a much-anticipated fight.
It was another rough, tough slugfest. At least Wolak avoided the massive swelling that closed his right eye in the first meeting, even though he lost.
Rodriguez, the faster, taller and more skillful fighter, put combinations together throughout the fight.
In the 10th round, he nearly knocked Wolak out, hammering him with a series of brutal shots, including a right uppercut that did damage.
"I knew I needed to close the show," Rodriguez said. "This time, I wasn't taking any chances. I don't know what kept him up."
The judges scored the bout 100-90, 98-92 and 98-91.
Wolak's eyes were both marked up, and he was bleeding from his mouth when it was over.
"I thought the scores should have been closer, but he hit me with some really hard shots," Wolak said.
The CompuBox punch statistics backed up Rodriguez's victory. He landed 257 of 734 shots (35 percent) to the 167 of 742 punches (23 percent) that Wolak landed.
• Philadelphia welterweight contender Mike Jones (26-0, 19 KOs) easily outpointed Argentina's Sebastian Lujan (38-6-2, 24 KOs) for a lopsided unanimous decision.
With Andre Berto recently relinquishing a welterweight title, the fight was an eliminator to determine who would face Randall Bailey, the heavy-punching former junior welterweight titlist who had been Berto's mandatory challenger, for the vacant title. Bailey-Jones is due in the first quarter of 2012.
Jones dominated all the way, mainly with a stiff left jab to win 119-109, 119-109, 118-110. The shorter Lujan had no way to get inside against Jones and was paying the price on the outside. Jones wobbled him with a right hand in the opening round, but his main weapon was the jab. Jones rocked Lujan again with a right hand in the fifth round, after which Lujan walked to the wrong corner. Jones was cruising and hurt Lujan again in the 11th round, as the fight became virtual target practice when Lujan dropped his hands and took several clean shots.
"There are no easy fights in boxing," Jones said. "It was a tough fight because he threw a lot of awkward shots, and he never stopped working. I respect a guy like that because I knew he would keep working in the ring."
• Decked out in the blue and gold colors of Notre Dame, light heavyweight Mike Lee (8-0, 5 KOs) of Chicago -- a 2009 Notre Dame graduate with a finance degree -- knocked out Allen Medina (9-20-1, 1 KO) of Denver at 55 seconds of the fourth and final round.
Lee, 24, dominated Medina, doing as he pleased. He fired shots with both hands and was hammering the game Medina, who finally went down on the end of a clean right hand. Lee turned his back on Wall Street to pursue his passion for boxing after a limited amateur boxing career, during which he won the Chicago Golden Gloves in 2009 and also boxed in the Notre Dame Bengal Bouts.
• Long Beach, N.Y., light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (11-0, 8 KOs), who drew a large cheering section, knocked out Santos Martinez (2-3, 2 KOs) at 2 minutes, 56 seconds of the second round. Before finishing him in the second round, Monaghan badly hurt him in the first round, getting credit for a knockdown after he landed a brutal left and right, and Martinez sagged into the ropes, which held him up.
• Junior middleweight prospect Glen Tapia (12-0, 6 KOs), a 21-year-old from Passaic, N.J., with the crowd cheering for him, scored a highlight-reel second-round knockout of Puerto Rico's Mike Ruiz (15-7, 7 KOs). Ruiz had hurt Tapia earlier in the second round, but Tapia rebounded to unload more than a dozen blows, including a big right hand that dropped Ruiz for the count at 2 minutes, 27 seconds.
• Junior bantamweight Hanzel Martinez (16-0, 13 KOs), Margarito's brother-in-law from Mexico, claimed a majority decision against Felipe Castaneda (6-4-1, 3 KOs). Two judges scored it 39-37, and the third had it 38-38.
• Puerto Rican welterweight Samuel Figueroa (2-0, 1 KO) edged Lawton Halsey (0-1-1) of Newark, N.J., for a four-round split-decision win in a crowd-pleasing fight to open the show. Two judges had it for Figueroa, 39-36 and 38-37, while the third had it 38-37 for Halsey.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
Lightweight champion Brandon Rios failed to make weight, was stripped of his title and got a tough initial challenge from John Murray, but ultimately overwhelmed the Brit for an 11th-round TKO on Saturday.