Salud Stops Zavala, Takes His Title


Jesus Salud's trainer, Abel Sanchez, predicted Rudy Zavala would stand in with Salud for three rounds and then start running.

Zavala, of Costa Mesa, should have listened to Sanchez. He stood toe-to-toe with Salud for eight rounds and got hit with punches from every angle. When Zavala could no longer see out of his swollen left eye, ring doctor Robert Karns mercifully stopped the fight at 2 minutes 16 seconds of the eighth round.

Salud's victory, in front of 2,312 Thursday in the San Diego Sports Arena, gives him the North American Boxing Federation junior featherweight title for the third time.

"The guy was strong, but I was surprised he stood in front of me," Salud said. "He gave me a chance to throw all my combinations."

There wasn't much Salud didn't throw at Zavala (17-1-1). ESPN's Punch Profile counted Salud throwing 855 punches and connecting on 385 for 45% accuracy. To Zavala, who landed 286 of 690 punches (41%), it must have seemed like 100% accuracy.

Salud (42-5, 22 knockouts) cut Zavala in the first round with a right uppercut and then appeared to open it up with an overhand right early in the fourth round. After a brief flurry by Zavala to open the fifth round, Salud began to punish Zavala with right uppercuts and overhand rights.

"After the fourth or fifth round, I couldn't see," said Zavala, who took 17 stitches over his eye after the fight. "But I wasn't about to give up."

But had the NABF not warned Herb Stone, Zavala's manager, before the fight that throwing in the towel would result in a fine, Stone said he would have stopped the bout in the seventh round.

If he had it to do over, Stone also said he might not have put his 23-year-old into ring the against Salud, the 29-year-old former World Boxing Assn. champion.

"I am sorry now because of the result," Stone said. "But Rudy Zavala has nothing to be ashamed about. Jesus was the better man tonight."

Said Zavala: "I should have boxed him a little more. I was trying to circle him, but that was hard to do when I couldn't see."

Neither fighter had much chance to rest, except for a clinch late in the fifth round. Earlier in the round, Zavala had backed Salud into the corner with a barrage of punches.

"He was desperate at that time--his cut had just opened," Salud said.

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