Bika wins vacant IBO super middleweight title

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Sakio Bika captured the vacant International Boxing Organization super middleweight title Thursday night, stopping Peter Manfredo Jr. in the third round of a scheduled 12-rounder.

The 29-year-old Bika (27-3-2, 17 knockouts) dropped the 27-year-old Manfredo with a straight right hand early in the third round. Manfredo got up and Bika resumed his attack. He wobbled Manfredo with a right uppercut and then drilled him with another right hand, almost sending Manfredo through the ropes. Referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight 1 minute, 50 seconds into the round.

In the second round, Bika landed a right hand and was tripped as Manfredo fell. Gonzalez awarded the knockdown to Manfredo, giving Bika the mandatory eight-count.

Bika, of Australia, is the International Boxing Federation Pan Pacific super middleweight champion and was a member of Cameroon's 2000 Olympic team.

"I feel very happy," Bika said. "I thank God for the opportunity to fight for the IBO title. Next I want Bernard Hopkins."

Hopkins, a former middleweight and light heavyweight world champion, defeated Ring Magazine's middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in a non-title bout.

Manfredo, who grew up in Providence, dropped to 31-6 (16 knockouts). He was the interim North American Boxing Federation champion and was ranked 13th by the World Boxing Council.

"He was just so strong," Manfredo said. "His punches were wide, but so strong. I tried to roll and catch him between punches, but I couldn't do it."

Bika was the champion of the third season of reality television series "The Contender." Manfredo was the runner-up in the first season, losing to Sergio Mora in the finals. In April 2007, Manfredo challenged Joe Calzaghe for the World Boxing Organization super middleweight title and was stopped in the fourth round.

Also Thursday, Grady Brewer won a 10-round split decision over Cornelius Bundrage in an IBO light middleweight eliminator.

Brewer, of Lawton, Okla., is 24-11 (13 knockouts); Bundrage, of Detroit, is 28-4 (16 knockouts). Brewer is a former International Boxing Association light middleweight title-holder. Bundrage entered the fight ranked 14th by the International Boxing Federation.

Both fighters took part in the second season of "The Contender," with Brewer winning the championship and Bundrage finishing third.