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STATELINE, Nev. -- Jeff Lacy didn't waste any time letting 38-year-old Scott Pemberton know that boxing is a young man's game and that there's no substitute for punching power.
Lacy stopped the game New Englander at the end of the second round of their IBF 168-pound title fight with a thunderous overhand right that prompted referee Vic Draculich to wave off the one-sided contest immediately.
|Lacy stopped Pemberton in the second round of their IBF 168-pound title fight.|
Lacy, 28 and obviously in his physical prime, retained his IBF title for the fourth time in 13 months and improved to 21-0 (17) in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Caesars Tahoe on Saturday night. The disparity in speed and power between the young champion and aged challenger was evident from the opening bell of the Showtime-televised main event.
Lacy backed Pemberton up and snapped the veteran's head back with jabs, right hands and left hooks in the first round. Pemberton fired back and held on when buzzed but appeared woefully out-gunned.
Pemberton, who dropped to 29-4-1 (24), continued to clutch and hold in the second round but wasn't able to stifle Lacy's attack, which included hard body shots that set up the right hand to the temple that scored the first knockdown in the fight. Pemberton beat Draculich's count but was punished along the ropes and bullied across the ring near his own corner before Lacy landed the final booming right hand that ended the fight at 2:59 of the round.
The lanky challenger fell like a fawn that was blasted by a shotgun at close range. Draculich didn't bother to issue a count.
"I was OK," Pemberton said afterward, "but I can understand why they stopped it."
Lacy was pumped up about the win but gracious in victory.
"I was happy to give him a shot at the title," Lacy said. "I felt very strong; I knew if I could get close I could land my bombs."
And that's exactly what the St. Petersburg, Fla., native's heavy punches sounded like from ringside.
Lacy added that he's looking forward to high-profile bouts next year against the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones.
In the co-featured bout, Rafael Marquez defended his IBF bantamweight title for the sixth time with an impressive fourth-round stoppage of No. 1 contender (and IBO belt holder) Silence Mabuza. Referee Norm Budden called the fight off because of severe cuts around the challenger's eyes.
The game South African was dropped in the first round but battled back in rounds two and three, though his face paid the price for his bravery.
Marquez, who improved to 35-3 (31), beat Mabuza to the jab in every round (dropping the South African by hooking off that sharp jab in the first), which set up clean power punches from both hands. By the start of the fourth round, Mabuza was badly cut over his right eye and bleeding from a cut under his left eye.
Mabuza, who dropped to 18-1 (15), stood and traded with Marquez near the end of the third and attempted to smother the champ in the fourth, but it was evident from the streams of blood that trickled down his face that his sharp cheekbones were too high and his hands were held too low to beat the classy Mexico City native on this night.
"I got caught early, but I came back very strong," a disappointed Mabuza said after the fight was stopped at 2:08 of the fourth round on the advice of the ringside physician. "I need to fight this guy again. I want a rematch and I'll go to Mexico to get it."
Mabuza claimed the bad cut was due to a headbutt, not a punch (which Showtime's cameras may have captured), but Marquez was in no mood for such talk.
"There was a headbutt during the fight, but the cut was caused from a punch from my left hand," he said. "Losers make excuses.
"I feel like I won every round. It was even easier than I thought it would be. He was a very strong fighter, but I was hitting him perfectly from the start," he added.
At the time of the stoppage, Marquez was up 30-26 on all three official scorecards.
On the undercard, Reno's middleweight prospect Joey Gilbert (who participated in NBC's unscripted series "The Contender" earlier this year) improved to 10-1 (7) with a unanimous six-round decision over James North, who dropped to 7-8-1 (2).
Heavyweight prospects Shane Cameron and Chazz Witherspoon stayed unbeaten with decisions over sturdy journeymen, but both showed that they need a lot of work before they can be taken seriously.
New Zealand's Cameron improved to 14-0 (12) with a majority 10-round decison over Ohio's James Walton, who fell to 20-8-2 (10). Philadelphia's Witherspoon improved to 9-0 (6) by clubbing his way to a pedestrian six-round decision over Michigan's Demetrice King, who dropped to 9-11 (7).
Flashy Filipino bantamweight propsect Nonito Donaire improved to 13-1 (8) in scoring a unanimous eight-round decision over tough veteran Ilido Manuel Julio of Colombia, who dropped to 35-7-1 (31). Donaire dropped Julio twice in the final round with vicious body shots.