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Kobori stops Alfaro in third round to win WBA lightweight crown

TOKYO -- Japan's Yusuke Kobori picked
himself off the canvas to stop champion Jose Alfaro of Nicaragua
in the third round and win the WBA lightweight title on Monday.

Kobori backed up his pre-fight promise to end Alfaro's brief
reign early, winning by technical knockout just over two minutes
into round three of their scheduled 12-rounder in Tokyo.

The 24-year-old Alfaro won the belt from Thailand's Prawet
Singwancha last December and was making his first defense
against an opponent two years his senior.

Kobori was floored by a big combination from Alfaro in the
second round but the WBA's seventh-ranked fighter responded with
a devastating left hook to the Nicaraguan's jaw in the next.

The challenger continued to pour on the pressure before
Alfaro was spared further punishment by the referee.

"I'm delighted," Kobori said. "We had been working
on that left hook in training and it just connected perfectly.
It was a tough fight and I was in trouble early on. I guess I
just hate losing."

Kobori, who became Japan's third world champion at
lightweight and first since Takanori Hatakeyama in 2000,
improved his record to 23-2-1.

Alfaro, one of American promoter Don King's stable of
fighters, slipped to 20-4 with one no
contest.