Brown stops Blocker in 10 to unify welterweight title


LAS VEGAS -- Best friends Simon Brown and Maurice Blocker fought like enemies for more than nine rounds at The Mirage last night before Brown, trailing on points, stopped Blocker at 2 minutes, 10 seconds of the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round welterweight championship match.

Brown, the International Boxing Federation champion, floored his former stablemate and Germantown, Md., neighbor, with a bristling right-left combination early in the 10th.

Blocker, who owned the World Boxing Council belt, went down in a heap. He pulled himself erect by grabbing the lower ring strand, but Brown, one of the best finishers in the business, quickly moved in to end it.

Two booming lefts began a barrage that sent the rubber-legged Blocker into a corner. Referee Mills Lane did not hesitate in throwing an arm around Blocker and signaling an end to the fight.

As soon as it ended, Brown raced across the ring to embrace and console his friend.

According to commission contracts, both fighters received $500,000 for the title-unifying bout. Brown, outboxed in the early rounds, raised his record to 34-1 with 26 knockouts. It was his eighth successful title defense since he won the crown by stopping Tyrone Trice in April 1988.

Blocker enjoyed a brief reign as champion. He won the title last August by winning a decision over Marlon Starling.

In other bouts, undefeated WBC super-lightweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez beat Johnny Duplessis with a knockout at 2:42 of the fourth round; super-middleweight Roberto Duran quit in the sixth round against Pat Lawlor; and Greg Page, a former WBA heavyweight champion, stopped Matt Young at 2:28 of the third round.

The rangy Blocker used his considerable reach advantage and jab to win the first two rounds in convincing fashion.

Brown, a notoriously slow starter, began warming to the task in round three, when he caught a retreating Blocker high on the forehead with a glancing overhand right. Blocker staggered backward but quickly recovered and landed several clever combinations before the round ended.

Brown assumed a southpaw stance at the start of the fourth round but quickly reverted to an orthodox style. The Jamaica native again nailed Blocker with an overhand right and stopped his former stablemate in mid-ring with a left-right combination.

Blocker fought back gamely. For 30 seconds, the two fighters stood toe-to-toe in mid-ring, drawing wild applause from the crowd.

Brown again landed the more telling punches in round five, slowing Blocker with a ripping uppercut. He followed his advantage with a left hook and another uppercut, but Blocker stuck to his boxing style, fighting at long range and scoring with light jabs.

The pace slowed noticeably in the sixth round. A wide right by Brown on Blocker's jaw was the most meaningful blow.

Clinching became more evident in the seventh round as Brown tried to bully Blocker on the ropes. Referee Mills Lane had a difficult time separating the fighters.

All three judges had Blocker leading by narrow margins. Frank Brunette and Lou Flippo scored it 86-85, and Patricia Jarman scored it 87-85, before Brown made the voting irrelevant with his explosive finish in the 10th.

"I won, but in my heart it was a bitter win," Brown said. "I couldn't really get angry before this fight. I would have rather not fought Maurice, but it was out of my control.

"I would lay in bed at night and ask myself, 'What is the world coming to that I must fight Maurice?' But I read the Bible, and my faith kept me going."

Chavez, a Mexican rated the best fighter, pound-for-pound, today, strengthened his reputation by claiming Duplessis of New Orleans as his 74th straight victim with a fourth-round knockout.

Duplessis (36-2) was hanging helplessly over the ropes in a neutral corner when referee Carlos Padilla came to his rescue. A looping right followed by a crushing left hook triggered the finish.

Duplessis had attempted to use a flicking jab and lightning feet to stay out of harm's way, but Chavez effectively cut off the ring and dropped his retreating rival in the second round with two thumping hooks to the ribs.

Chavez, 28, who is considering moving up to the welterweight class in pursuit of a fourth world title, tracked Duplessis like a cat playing with a mouse. That Duplessis lasted into the fourth round was a credit to his lively feet, but he lacked the power to survive against Chavez.

Page (32-9) of Louisville stopped Young (10-15) of Miami in the third round.

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