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Chavez Retains Title in a Runaway : Boxing: Mexican champion chases challenger Lonnie Smith, who does not put up much of a fight.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Julio Cesar Chavez chased and battered challenger Lonnie Smith for 12 rounds Saturday night and successfully defended his light-welterweight championship for the sixth time.

Smith, who talked a great fight all week, tried to run for 12 rounds. But he could not avoid the crisp, accurate punches of Chavez, who is 20-0 in world championship fights.

His victory was so one-sided that most of the 8,000 spectators began leaving well before the decision was announced. Afterward, Chavez, of Culiacan, Mexico, called Smith a coward for failing to challenge him.

Also on the card, middleweight champion Julian Jackson of the Virgin Islands, idle the last 10 months because of eye problems, knocked out challenger Dennis Milton in one round.

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Against Chavez, Smith tried everything, including a knee to the champion’s groin in the ninth round that cost him a point.

The judges scored it for Chavez: 118-106, 119-107 and 118-109. The Times card had Chavez by 119-105.

There were no knockdowns, but the retreating Smith, a 9-1 underdog, nonetheless took a beating. On about a half-dozen occasions, Chavez seemed to have Smith on the verge of a knockout, but then became cautious.

That was because the powerfully built Smith (29-3-1) would occasionally unload a big right hand at Chavez. But mostly, he tried to avoid Chavez.

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“He didn’t come to fight,” Chavez said. “He looked like a coward, and that’s what he was.

“Lonnie Smith doesn’t deserve to fight ever again. I am totally disgusted with him. If I had known he would run like a coward, I would never have given him a fight. He has disgraced boxing. People pay to see you fight.”

Chavez also said he would leave the 140-pound division for bigger challenges, such as a potentially lucrative match against Hector Camacho.

“It cost me a great deal to make weight for this fight,” he said. “I had to lose 4 1/2 pounds since Friday to make weight.”

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Smith’s manager, Sterling McPherson, was embarrassed by his fighter’s effort.

“I’m ashamed of what took place out there,” he said.

Chavez earned $750,000 Saturday night, Smith $100,000.

The Mexican champion raised his record to 76-0, according to his accounting, but every major American boxing statistician lists him as 75-1. The discrepancy is over a disqualification early in his career that was later reversed.

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Chavez said he was bothered Saturday night by a tender ankle, which caused him pain when he moved forward.

He did not look lame. He displayed hooks to the ribs, short, crisp right hands to the head, and rapid-fire combinations from all directions. But most of that came only after Smith’s legs wearied in the mid-rounds.

Smith seemed to be gasping for air as early as the fourth round, but never really lost all of his stamina. In the fifth, he took a series of right hands to the head and retaliated in apparent frustration with a deliberate knee to the groin.

The fight’s pace slowed considerably in the last rounds. Smith, on The Times’ card, won only the ninth after landing several right hands in a round that Chavez seemed to take off.

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Smith’s final shot at victory was a countering right hand that caught Chavez on the chin in the 10th. However, Chavez quickly returned to his punishing rhythm.

So exhausted was Smith at the finish that when he fell in the 12th while retreating, he had difficulty rising.

Milton, an accomplished magician, has entertained boxing people for years by making cards and coins disappear. But he did not have any tricks to stop Jackson.

A 3 1/2-to-1 favorite, Jackson seemed to hit Milton with every right he threw, including one that came seconds into the fight, sending Milton into permanent retreat.

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Milton was badly rocked a minute into the fight by a wild overhand right that caught him on the ear. Milton held on to the top rope to remain upright, then tried to embrace the charging Jackson in a clinch.

The finisher was a single right that landed high on the unprotected side of Milton’s head. He crumpled to the floor on his back, and slowly rolled over. He tried to rise, but was falling again on his back when referee Mills Lane counted him out, 2 minutes 10 seconds into the fight.

Jackson, from the Virgin Islands, is 42-1 with 40 knockouts. Milton is 16-3-1. Jackson made $150,000, Milton $65,000.


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