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Going for a Knockout, Gonzalez Is the One Who Gets Knocked Out : Boxing: Champion ignores advice to avoid hard-hitting Sorjaturong and pays the price.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a classic meeting of little men Saturday night, Saman Sorjaturong, a virtual unknown from Thailand, crawled up from the canvas twice and emerged with swollen eyes, a barely audible voice and one of the most stunning, thunderous upset knockouts in the history of boxing’s lighter divisions.

Trailing badly on all three judges’ cards after six blazing rounds of action and warned that he probably only had one more round left before the ringside doctor ended it, Sorjaturong stormed out in the seventh round with a manic energy that seemed to overwhelm Humberto (Chiquita) Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, told by his corner to box and avoid the hard-hitting challenger, instead stayed inside, by his own admittance, foolishly going for a knockout.

For Gonzalez (42-3, 29 knockouts), the loss to Sorjaturong (26-2-1, 21 KOs) was an eerie replay of his March, 1993 knockout loss to Michael Carbajal, who also hit the floor twice before rallying to knock Gonzalez out, also in the seventh.

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Gonzalez came back to beat Carbajal in the next two rematches.

Gonzalez, who began the fight holding the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council light-flyweight titles--the sport’s only double champion--ended it with tired eyes and speaking quietly of retirement.

“I had an agreement with my family that if I won, I’d do one more fight and then retire,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter. “But I lost, and that’s what happens.

“We’re not all invincible. I’ve thought about it. I don’t want to look for any protests or any complaints. It happens, and that’s it.”

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Gonzalez softened his stance later, and his adviser, Rafael Mendoza, said that Gonzalez will probably try to persuade his wife and his mother to give him one more fight--a contracted rematch against Sorjaturong.

“I think it’s about 50-50 he retires,” Mendoza said.

Slamming shots hard into Sorjaturong’s body, Gonzalez rebounded from a flash second-round knockdown to record knockdowns in the fifth and sixth rounds, and seemed to be well on his way to a victory--despite a bad gash over his left eye caused by a head butt in the first round.

After the sixth, ringside physician Adam Karns told Sorjaturong, whose right eye was nearly swollen shut, that he was about to stop the fight, unless the challenger showed that he could fight back.

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So Sorjaturong, who had been landing crunching rights all night, literally leaped into action in the seventh and blasted Gonzalez with a short right to the jaw about 30 seconds into the round, catapulting the champion backward under the ropes.

“I got a little mad,” Gonzalez said to explain why he didn’t stay away from Sorjaturong’s power. “My corner told me how to do it, and I didn’t listen. There’s no excuse.”

Said Mendoza: “He lost because he has too much pride. He wanted to knock him out, and he got caught. One or two more rounds, if he just stays away, Chiquita wins easily. The guy couldn’t last.”

Clearly groggy after the eight-count, Gonzalez had no answer for Sorjaturong’s continued assault, and, with the champion reeling on his feet and dabbing uselessly at air, referee Lou Filippo stopped the fight 58 seconds into the seventh before an announced Forum crowd of 5,597.

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“I feel very, very happy,” Sorjaturong said through an interpreter. “No one believed me when I said I was the hardest puncher in this division. I think I proved it tonight.”

Asked about Gonzalez’s future, Forum Boxing Vice President John Jackson, Gonzalez’s promoter who also now holds option rights on Sorjaturong, said: “It’s up to Chiquita. We will do whatever he wants to do.”

The night’s earlier bouts featured dazzling first-round knockouts by World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera and WBO middleweight title-holder Lonnie Bradley.

Barrera (37-0, 26 KOs), until recently not known for his early-knockout power, racked up his second consecutive blistering knockout by destroying Maui Diaz (27-2) at 2:50 of the fight.

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Bradley (22-0, 18 KOs) retained his WBO middleweight title with a devastating series of rights that ended with a first-round knockout of Dario Galindez (18-1-1).

In the first featured fight, flyweight Mark (Too Sharp) Johnson (25-1, 18 KOs) won a knockout victory over an outclassed Josue Camacho (15-4) when referee James Jen-Kin stopped the bout 2:42 into the eighth round.


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