ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Super middleweight champion Roy Jones strengthened his growing reputation as boxing's best fighter last night by knocking out gritty Vinny Pazienza at 2:58 of the sixth round before 11,748 at Convention Hall.
In raising his pro record to 29-0, Jones weathered Pazienza's swarming body attack in the early rounds and finished the former four-time champion with a dazzling display of speed and power.
Two jarring uppercuts started Pazienza's downfall in the sixth round. The Providence, R.I., boxer never fully recovered from the first knockdown. He could no longer avoid the brilliant combinations of Jones, who dropped Pazienza twice more before referee Tony Orlando intervened.
At the time of the stoppage, the champion from Pensacola, Fla., had swept the first five rounds on all three judges' cards.
Jones began talking to Pazienza in the fourth round, backing it up with two solid hooks to the head. Pazienza was bleeding from the nose and under the left eye.
In the fifth round he peppered Pazienza's face with rapid-fire jabs.
Pazienza tried to reverse the tide by rushing Jones and scoring several hard body shots. But Jones closed the round with an effective flurry and widened the gash under Pazienza's eye.
Jones, 26, continued to pile up points with his jab. Pazienza's roughhouse tactics were nullified by a blistering combination that sent him flying against the ropes.
Jones floored Pazienza for an eight count. The ex-champion regained his feet but was clearly hurt. Two more knockdowns followed in rapid order, with Orlando signaling an end to the brawl.
Jones, who is looking forward to a super middleweight showdown with Nigel Benn of England, hardly had a hair out of place after the fight. Pazienza (40-6) had ugly gashes around both eyes and a badly swollen nose.
"I was in complete control from the beginning to the end," said Jones, who pocketed a reported $3 million for the pay-per-view bout. "I just had to come out and be myself."
Pazienza, who had made a miraculous recovery from a near-fatal neck injury resulting from a car crash in 1991, showed grudging respect for Jones.
"It was very frustrating," said Pazienza, who once had ruled as champion in the junior welterweight, junior middleweight and super middleweight divisions.
"I needed to be on the money with my punches, but I couldn't get through his reach. He fought a great fight. What can I say?"
In other fights:
* The second time around for International Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion Al "Ice" Cole and challenger Uriah Grant left no room for complaint, with Cole winning the 12-round bout by decisive margins on all three judges' cards.
Cole (27-1, 13 KOs), who said he was not excited by the prospect of having to fight Grant again, displayed a business-like approach in thoroughly outboxing his Jamaican rival and winning most of the toe-to-toe battles. Two judges favored Cole, 117-111, with the third official giving him a 117-110 edge.
Grant (23-11, 22 KOs), had gained a rematch after losing his first encounter with the slender Cole by a close vote. But this time the loser uttered not a word of protest.
* Derrick Gainer of Pensacola, Fla., won the North American Boxing Federation featherweight title with a lopsided 12-round decision over Harold Warren of Corpus Christi, Texas.
The left-handed Gainer (14-3, seven KOs) proved too clever and elusive for Warren (34-8, 14 KOs). Gainer used a stinging jab and quick combinations to frustrate Warren. The score cards favored Gainer, 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112. There were no knockdowns.
* Top-ranked welterweight contender Larry Barnes of Mount Vernon, N.Y., tuning up for his Aug. 19 title shot against Felix Trinidad on the Mike Tyson-Peter McNeeley card in Las Vegas, stopped Jeff Passero of Crofton at 1:34 of the fifth round of their scheduled 10-round bout.
Barnes (38-1, 15 KOs), not known for his punching power, trapped the lanky, 5-foot-11 Passero in a corner and floored him with a hard right to the ribs.
Passero (20-9, 10 KOs) who had been knocked out by journeyman Jeff Graffius in his last fight in Baltimore, could not beat the count.