Norris Stops Lally in First, Retains Title : Boxing: WBC junior-middleweight champion knocks down challenger three times before fight is stopped.


Junior-middleweight champion Terry Norris knocked down challenger Brett Lally three times Saturday night, finally stopping him at 2 minutes 40 seconds of the first round before about 5,000 at the San Diego Sports Arena.

With his eighth consecutive victory, Norris (29-3) has successfully defended his World Boxing Council championship four times in 11 months. He earned $300,000--Lally made $65,000--but hopes for a seven-digit payday against Meldrick Taylor, the welterweight champion who has lost only to Julio Cesar Chavez.

Norris, who lives in Alpine and trains in nearby Campo, scored his second one-round victory in a title fight. He won the 154-pound championship with a one-round knockout of John Mugabi in March of 1990.


But he was never sharper than he was Saturday night, and it all happened in a building where he said he hopes to fight often in the future. Saturday’s was the largest San Diego boxing crowd in several years.

Norris began cautiously, but early in the round he let fly with a sweeping left hook that caught Lally on the chin, knocking him down. Lally took a standing-eight count from referee Rudy Ortega.

A minute later, Lally went to his knees from a shorter hook, called later by Norris the best punch of the round. Lally arose shakily, and Norris finished him in a neutral corner with a left hook and a right uppercut. Lally went to one knee and quickly got to his feet, but the fight had ended because of the three-knockdown rule.

Apparently, Lally got in his best “punch” at the morning weigh-in. After the two bumped chests, Lally (29-6) rapped Norris on the forehead with his forehead.

An hour before the fight, Norris’ father, Orlin Norris Sr., was still angry.

“The guy’s (Lally) going to butt him, I just know it,” he said.

And Lally did, after the first knockdown. But no cut resulted.

Abel Sanchez, Norris’ trainer, said he and his fighter realized months ago while viewing films of Lally’s fights that Norris’ left hook would be effective against the challenger,

“It was just like the Mugabi fight,” Sanchez said. “We knew Lally would come charging in, and the game plan was for Terry to let him come in, let him throw his right hand, slip it, then hit him with the left hook. Lally throws that right and leaves it hanging out there.

“Terry has improved steadily for two years, he just keeps getting better and better.”

Norris, who hasn’t lost since Julian Jackson stopped him in two rounds two years ago, said the brevity of Saturday’s fight surprised him.

“I was expecting a 12-round fight, but he just wasn’t ready,” Norris said.

“I was looking for the left hook, I knew it would be there. He was a strong guy--he hit me on the back of the head once and I could feel his power.”

Lally, from Westland, Mich., said that Norris had “hard gloves.”

Norris faces a mandatory challenger to his WBC crown in Jorge Castro of Argentina, a match his manager, Joe Sayatovich, said they want to be fought in San Diego.

“Taylor is our first choice, that would be a good payday for both fighters,” Sayatovich said. “But we also would like to have Terry develop a big following here in San Diego and so we’d probably try to put a Castro fight here.”

Norris’ cruiserweight brother, Orlin, fought Jesse Shelby (20-11-1) of Ft. Worth for 10 rounds, then was cut over the left eye by a head butt and was awarded a technical knockout, improving to 30-3.

Norris led on the scorecards, 100-90, 98-91 and 98-92.

Also on Saturday’s card, Arleta junior-lightweight Gabriel Ruelas survived a rocky 12th round and won a unanimous decision over Colombian Alvaro Bohorquez. Ruelas (24-1), who had knocked Bohorquez (28-8-2) down in the fourth round, was staggered by a right early in the final round, but remained standing.

Light-heavyweight Ramzi Hassan (30-5), stablemate of the Norris brothers, won a unanimous decision over Keith McMurray (14-12-1) of Sacramento.