In a fight turned into a bloodbath by at least half a dozen head butts, Victor Rabanales of Mexico won the vacant World Boxing Council bantamweight championship by technical decision over Lee Yong-Hoon of South Korea Monday night at the Forum before 6,677.
Ringside physician Robert Karns ended the fight in the ninth round after a cut over Rabanales' right eye, caused in the eighth round by a butt by Lee, was made worse midway through the ninth by another.
The bout went to the scorecards after referee Henry Elespuru called in Karns to look at Rabanales at 1:21 of the ninth round. Karns took one look and gestured for Elespuru to stop it.
"It was the same cut, but the butt in the ninth opened it up even wider, and the blood was pouring into his eye," Karns said.
On the scorecards, judge Cindi Bartin of Las Vegas had Rabanales an 85-84 winner, and Ladislao Sanchez of Venezuela had Rabanales up, 87-84. Rudy Jordan of Los Angeles had it even, 85-85. The Times card had Rabanales winning, 88-82.
In a companion feature, in a matchup of two Mexico City fighters, Armando Castro stopped Esteban Ayala in the fourth round to win the Forum's super-flyweight tournament title and $65,000.
The world title bout fighters got much less. Rabanales earned $25,000, Lee $20,000.
They were fighting for a championship vacated by Japan's Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who suffered an eye injury in beating Greg Richardson in Japan last September.
Rabanales is 30-10-2, but is 16-1-1 in his last 18 fights. He lost a hotly disputed decision to Richardson here last May, after which Richardson lost the title to Tatsuyoshi.
Lee is 20-1.
It was a slugfest from the opening bell, but neither man had a defense for head butts. There were five butts resulting in cuts, four of them by Lee, yet Elespuru failed to deduct a point, as proscribed by WBC rules.
There was one knockdown, scored by Rabanales in the second round just when Lee seemed to be taking command. Punching hard and sharply, Lee had Rabanales backing up when the Mexican floored him with an overhand right.