John wins with unanimous decision
LAS VEGAS -- Chris John retained his WBA featherweight title with an unanimous decision over Rocky Juarez on Saturday night, hanging on in the 12th round to win their second bout in seven months.
Lightweight Michael Katsidis also kept his comeback on track with a split-decision win over Vicente Escobedo on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s comeback fight against Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden.
John (43-0-2, 22 KOs) was clearly quicker through most of the rematch of the fighters' Feb. 28 bout, which ended with a rare unanimous draw in Juarez's native Texas -- a fight many thought John won.
Juarez (28-5-1) staggered John with about one minute left in the bout, but John stayed upright on wobbly knees to remain unbeaten.
"It was a very tough fight," John said. "In the last round, I was hurt. My eye was really swelling up, but I kept on fighting like Arturo Gatti."
John scrapped the first scheduled rematch in June because of an illness, but he looked thoroughly sharp in just his second U.S. fight. John, who beat Marquez in March 2006 in his native Indonesia, honored the late Gatti on his trunks.
Judge Glenn Hamada scored it 114-113 for John, while Adalaide Byrd favored him 119-109 and Herb Santos agreed 117-111. The Associated Press scored it 116-112 for John.
"My home is now Nevada, because the same fight in Texas would be different," John said.
Juarez, who lost to Marquez two years ago, again fell short in his fifth shot at a major title.
Katsidis (26-2, 21 KOs), whose only career losses are to Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, apparently didn't believe Escobedo could hurt him. The notoriously defense-deficient Australian, who enters the ring in a Spartan helmet, fearlessly waded in against Escobedo's punches, willingly taking a shot to deliver three.
"It's an amazing thing for a fighter to get off the ground and win a title again," Katsidis said. "I'm a fighter that gives it all, and I needed to give it all to win it. I was willing to put in more than he was. If I can get off the ground and win a title, anyone can."
Escobedo (21-2), whose corner was manned by Marquez trainer Nacho Beristain, rarely found his rhythm while ducking away from Katsidis' pressure. The 2004 U.S. Olympian from Woodland, Calif., had won his last 12 fights.
Cornelius Lock (19-4-1) opened the pay-per-view card by stopping previously undefeated Orlando Cruz in the fifth round of their featherweight bout. Lock, a 30-year-old journeyman who fights for Mayweather Promotions, capitalized on the opportunity created when Zab Judah recently dropped off the card by flattening Cruz (16-1-1) with an excellent uppercut.
Junior middleweight Erislandy Lara stopped Jose Varela in the first round to improve to 8-0 since defecting twice from Cuba. Two-time gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux, who defected with Lara in 2007 before both were arrested and returned to Cuba, won his third pro fight in Miami Beach earlier Saturday.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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