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Margarito stops Gomez 74 seconds into fight

LAS VEGAS -- Antonio Margarito and Brian Viloria needed to make strong statements in their title defenses Saturday night in order to take their careers to the next level.

Margarito, the WBO welterweight title holder, did just
that, taking only 74 seconds to knock out the
usually durable Manuel Gomez, who rode a 12-fight
unbeaten streak coming into the bout. Viloria,
the WBC 108-pound title holder, showed his
considerable promise by out-pointing former titlist
Jose Antonio Aguirre over 12 tough rounds, but also
proved that he is still in need of some seasoning
before he takes on the best flyweights of the world.

Margarito, who improved to 33-4 (24 knockouts), knew he had to
knock out his challenger in impressive fashion in order
to prove that he's not just one of the best 147
pounders out there (if not THE best), but one of the
best fighters, pound for pound, in the world and
worthy of marquee matchups with the sport's elite
boxers, such as Oscar De La Hoya or the winners of the
upcoming Shane Mosley-Fernando Vargas and Floyd
Mayweather-Zab Judah fights.

Bob Arum, who promoted the pay-per-view card and
is co-promoting Mayweather-Judah, announced that he
has reserved the 18,000-seat Thomas & Mack Center on
July 29 for Margarito vs. the winner of the April 8 147-pound showdown.

Margarito said he hopes the undefeated Mayweather, who
many consider to be the best boxer, pound for pound,
on the planet, beats Judah.

"I would love to be the man to give Mayweather his
first loss," the Tijuana native said after learning of
Arum's summer plans.

Margarito obviously can't wait to move on to bigger
things in boxing. He started fast tonight to the
thrill of the 5,309 in attendance at Aladdin Theater
of the Performing Arts, landing an assortment of
punches despite eating a number of counter left hooks
before catching Gomez with a big left uppercut along
the ropes.

Margarito followed his uppercut with a big hook that
staggered Gomez into the ropes, where the longtime WBO
belt holder put the tough Texan on the canvas with a
number of follow-up shots. Gomez looked finished
enough, crumpled on his side, for referee Richard Steele
to wave the contest off at 1:14 of the opening round.

Gomez, whose record dropped to 28-11-2 (20), popped up
and bitterly complained of the stoppage, but didn't
help his argument by stumbling into various cornermen
before falling into the ropes again.

At the post-fight press conference, Margarito and
Roger Mayweather, Floyd's uncle, head trainer and a
former two-division champ himself, got into a friendly
verbal exchange.

"The only way that a great fight should be made is if
it makes great money," Mayweather said, questioning
Margarito's marketability and the quality of his
opponents. "This guy you beat tonight, I don't even
know his name, I would have done that to him and
I ain't even put on gloves in five years."

Margarito laughed the comment off and then fired this
shot at Mayweather:

"If Floyd and I fight, I will do the same thing to him
that Julio Cesar Chavez did to you."

Viloria's management and promoter (Arum's Top Rank,
Inc.) hope the Hawaii native of Filipino descent can
be this generation's Michael Carbajal, a 108-pound
champ during the early-to-mid-'90s who had a diehard
Mexican-American fan following and seven-figure
earning power. With his exciting style and his growing
fan base (mostly Filipinos and Filipino-Americans)
Viloria is probably on his way to reaching that lofty
goal, but he's not there yet, as evidenced by some
anxious moments against Aguirre.

"Everybody thought I was going to have an easy time
tonight; I think I was the only one who knew I was
going to have a tough fight," Viloria said at the
post-fight press conference. "Aguirre wanted to win
tonight, I know he trained hard for this, and all of
my respect goes out to him."

Viloria, who improved to 19-0 (12), may have given
Aguirre too much respect after coming out swinging in
the opening round. Viloria zapped Aguirre with
lightening quick one-two combinations and a wicked
straight right to the body, but the Mexican veteran
weathered the storm and landed a few rights hands of
his own before the bell.

In rounds two and three, Viloria stopped leading with
his punches, and allowed Aguirre to march forward
behind well-timed overhand right hands. In the third
round, Viloria backed into a neutral corner, where
Aguirre worked him over with winging shots from
different angles.

In round four, Viloria went back to leading with his
jab and following up with hard, fast right hands. His
aggressiveness forced Aguirre to back off and move
around the ring, but the veteran remained game and
dangerous, consistently punching and looking for a
home for his right hand.

In the fifth round, Viloria hurt Aguirre with a
counter hook but appeared to let the 30-year-old
former titlist off the hook in the second part of the
round. In the sixth, Viloria hurt Aguirre again with a
concentrated body attack, but again appeared to take
his foot off the gas pedal in the final minute of the
round, allowing Aguirre score with power shots as he
backed up and tried to counter punch off the ropes.

After a close seventh round, Viloria found his second
wind and began to dictate the pace of the fight by
sticking and moving on the outside. For the final five
rounds, Viloria used his superior speed and picked his
spots to jump in and out of range and get off with
quick combinations that badly bloodied the nose of
Aguirre, who dropped to 33-5-1 (20), his third loss in
a row.

While Viloria clearly deserved the unanimous decision,
which he won by scores of 116-112 (twice) and 117-111,
it's also clear that the 25-year-old 2000 U.S.
Olympian still has a lot to learn. He needs to be more
consistent with his jab and body attack, and he needs
to press the action when he has the advantage and not
willingly back up to the ropes. Viloria has a bad habit
of landing one or two good shots and then stepping
back to admire his work.

He can't do that against a monster like Jorge Arce,
Arum's popular Mexican flyweight. Viloria and his
trainer Freddie Roach know this but are confident that
he will improve with every outing from this point on.
The big "little" fights at 108 and 112 pounds aren't
far off, they say.

"Let's do business, Arce," Viloria said. "We can be the
Michael Carbajal-Chiquita Gonzalez of this era."

In the first televised bout of Arum's pay-per-view
show, WBO 105-pound champ Ivan Calderon was able to
assume the role of the aggressor, rare for the
light-punching stick-and-move specialist, against the
battle-worn Isaac Bustos, a painfully slow former WBC
strawweight title holder.

Calderon, one of the best pure boxers in the game, did
what he usually does against Bustos -- he pitched a
near shutout, winning by scores of 120-108 (twice) and
119-109.

The only difference this time is that Calderon, now
25-0 (5), did more sticking than moving as he found
the leathery face of Bustos to be an all too easy
target for every punch in his arsenal.

Bustos, who was game but grossly out-classed, fell to
24-8-3 (13). Calderon, who has been mentioned as a
future opponent for Brian Viloria, made the eighth
defense of his WBO title with the one-sided victory.

In a special six-round attraction, junior welterweight
prospect Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. improved to 24-0-1
(18) and avenged the only blemish on his record with
six-round majority decision over Carlos Molina, who
held the son of the all-time great Mexican champ to a
draw last December. Chavez, who won by scores of 57-57
and 58-56 (twice), was troubled by Molina's hand speed
and combination punching in the first round of the
bout, but beginning with the second round "Junior"
stayed on top of his game foe and began turning the
bout into match of infighting.

By the third round, Chavez was landing accurate head
shots in between Molina's often wide hooks and
crosses. In rounds four and five, Chavez punished
Molina with an educated and accurate left hand,
turning the jab into a left uppercut and doubling up
with the hook. The two traded bombs in the sixth
round, and Molina got in a hard hook-cross
combination, ensuring a close fight on the scorecards.

However, many in the crowd thought the nod should have
gone the other way, booed the decision and cheered for
Molina, who dropped to 8-2-1 (4).

On the non-televised undercard:

Junior middleweight prospect Vanes Martirosyan
improved to 7-0 (4) with a second-round technical
knockout of Juan Montes De Oca. Martiroysan connected
with a wicked uppercut near the end of the second
round that not only dropped De Oca, who also suffered
a flash knockdown in the first round, but apparently
broke the tough journeyman's nose. Blood spattered on
impact of the uppercut and De Oca's nose literally
poured blood for the rest of the round and during the
beginning of the third before referee Jay Nady waved
the contest off at 1:21 of the round on the advice of
the ringside physician. De Oca, who was game
throughout, dropped to 6-9-2 (3).

Lightweight contender Almazbek "Kid Diamond"
Raiymkulov improved to 21-1-1 (13) with a third-round
disqualification victory over Jose Quintana. Referee
Jay Nady waved the contest off at 1:43 of round three
after the Puerto Rican journeyman connected with what
must have been his 10th intentional low blow.
Quintana, who dropped to 12-11-2 (7), was never in the
fight and was absorbing a lot of punishment from
Raiymkulov in the form of accurate body punches and
heavy right crosses. This was Raiymkulov's first bout
since suffering his only loss, a 10th-round stoppage
to Nate Campbell last October, and the Las Vegas-based
native of Kyrgyzstan looked sharp.

Welterweight journeyman Jesus Soto Karass improved to
13-3-2 (10) with a hard-fought, bloody eight-round
decision over rugged Fernando Mena. Karass, who
stunned Mena many times during the fight, but was
often out-muscled by his heavy handed foe, won by
scores of 78-74 (twice) and 77-75. Mena, who dropped
to 17-8-2 (15), suffered nasty cuts over his left eye,
in his mouth and on the back of head.

In a swing bout, welterweight novices Ramon Montano
and Vicente Garcia put on an entertaining four-round
scrap won by the local lad, Montano, who improved to
9-2-1 by scores of 40-36 (twice) and 39-37. Garcia, of
Albuquerque, dropped to 10-4 (6).