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Boxing at the Irvine Marriott : Perez Stops Hammond in 10 to Keep Title

Times Staff Writer

From the way Tomas Perez started Thursday night, it was hard to believed his California super welterweight title fight would last very long.

Perez began with a powerful flurry, but it still took him 10 rounds to finish off challenger Royon Hammond in front of 1,040 at the Irvine Marriott.

Hammond stayed on his feet the entire way, but had taken such a beating that referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight before the start of the 11th round. Perez (21-3) was credited with his 14th career knockout.

“I was surprised he didn’t go down,” Perez said. “I kept hitting him with hard right hands, but he knows how to survive.”

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Perez was ahead, 98-91, 98-91, 99-90, on the judges’ cards when the fight was stopped.

Hammond’s only real highlight came in the fifth and the early part of the sixth rounds when he managed a few good combinations that stunned Perez. In the seventh, Hammond appeared to butt Perez, who had two deep cuts above his left eye. After a 40-second break to allow the doctor to examine the cuts, the fight continued.

“After he cut me, I tried harder to really put him away,” Perez said.

Hammond (16-3) tried to reopen the cuts above Perez’s eye, but Perez trapped him on the ropes and wouldn’t allow him many open shots.

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“He just came in with more firepower,” Hammond said. “I thought I could take a good punch. I guess I can. I took a lot of them tonight.”

In the eight-round semi-main event, Johnny Tapia (9-1) rallied to beat Freddy Hernandez at 118 pounds.

Tapia trailed on two of the three judges’ cards going into the final round. In that deciding round, Tapia called for the crowd to cheer before he threw a series of strong combinations in the final minute. Tapia needed a knockdown with three seconds left to win the decision, 76-75, 76-75, 77-77.


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