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Jones Jr. wins heavyweight crown

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 2, 2003

LAS VEGAS -- Roy Jones Jr. of Pensacola made history Saturday, becoming the second fighter to move up from the light heavyweight division to win a heavyweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over John Ruiz to win the WBA title.

Jones stood flatfooted much of the fight and simply outpunched John Ruiz.

In a fight that had moments of action and long lulls between punches, Jones won against a bigger man who was never able to use his size to his advantage.

By the middle rounds, Jones was taunting Ruiz and standing in front of him, daring him to trade punches. When Ruiz did manage to land anything, Jones usually got out of the way quickly before returning for another flurry.

Jones became the first light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title since Michael Spinks did it in 1985 against Larry Holmes.

Wright retains IBF title

Ronald "Winky" Wright of St. Petersburg retained his IBF junior middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Juan Candelo on Saturday night as part of the undercard.

Wright was successful in his third defense with a steady, methodical effort against the Colombian. Candelo threw more than 1,100 punches and had a few impressive rounds, but nothing near Wright's consistency.

It wasn't a dramatic fight, with few thrilling exchanges, but Wright had a solid edge on every scorecard.

Candelo, the top-ranked IBF contender, went down in the 12th round in response to an apparent low blow by Wright, but the referee didn't buy it.

Wright, desperate to fight Oscar De La Hoya at 153 pounds, repeated his desire after the fight. Wright, who has won six straight fights, improved to 45-3.

"He was tough, and I'm glad he was tough," Wright said. "It'll make me more ready when I face De La Hoya. He was tough and he was slippery. He deserved to be a No. 1 contender."

In the final undercard bout before Jones' historic first fight as a heavyweight, Fres Oquendo knocked out journeyman Maurice Harris with a right hand in the 10th round of their non-title bout.

It was a dull fight until Oquendo caught Harris ducking, then sent him sprawling.

Also, Jean-Marc Mormeck defended his WBA cruiserweight title by stopping Alexander Gurov, the WBA's No. 1 contender, 32 seconds into the eighth round.

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