Valero stops DeMarco in ninth round

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Edwin Valero of Venezuela retained his WBC lightweight belt by stopping Mexico's Antonio DeMarco on Saturday night.

DeMarco sat in his corner and declined to come out for the 10th round of their title fight. The Mexican was well behind on points and, though he had no obvious injuries, officials said he retired on the advice of his handlers.

When the fight ended, Valero was eight points up on the scorecards of all three judges.

Valero improved to 27-0, with none of his bouts going the distance. DeMarco had only his second career defeat against 23 wins and a draw.

"My physical strength started to show," Valero said. "Little by little, I started gaining ground. The first three or four rounds I couldn't hit him with my jab, but then I started to connect."

Valero picked up a gash across his forehead in the second round, which came from an elbow by DeMarco that was ruled accidental. Valero needed three stitches afterward to close the wound.

Valero said he'd like a fight with Manny Pacquiao, which would force him to move up several weight categories.

"That's the fight the world wants to see," the Venezuelan said.

There could be many problems standing in the way of a Pacquiao-Valero fight.

Valero has been denied a U.S. visa because of a drunk-driving charge in Texas. He claims he was turned down because of his strong support for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.

Valero also had a severe motorcycle accident in February 2001 that left him with a fractured skull and required surgery to remove a blood clot. He eventually failed a pre-fight exam in New York. He was handed an indefinite suspension that effectively banned him from fighting in the United States.

The Venezuelan claimed the belt with a second-round TKO of Antonio Pitalua in April last year, and defended it in December when Hector Velasquez retired after six rounds.

DeMarco took an interim version of the belt with a 10th round TKO of Jose Alfaro in October last year.