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Vasquez Jr. stops Stevenson in nine rounds

By John J. Raspanti

In the biggest fight of his two-year career, Sammy Vasquez Jr. (16-0, 12 KOs) stopped James Stevenson (21-1, 14 KOs) in round nine Friday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The bout started slowly.

Vasquez, a southpaw, looked to establish his jab—while Stevenson kept his distance.

Both fighters picked up the pace in round two. Stevenson applied more pressure, but Vasquez began to let his hands go.

A stiff left landed--followed by a combination to the head.

Vasquez, who was born in nearby Monessen, did even better in the next stanza.

A cracking left wobbled Stevenson, but the 31-year-old fighter from Baltimore wasn’t going anywhere. He battled back, landing an overhand right near the end of the round.

Vasquez, 28, dominated the action in the next few rounds, displaying fast hands and pinpoint punches, but Stevenson, nicknamed “Keep ‘em Sleepin,” was dangerous.

In round five, after absorbing some heavy shots along the ropes, a counter right hook staggered Vasquez. Stevenson tried to exploit his advantage in round six, but Vasquez had fully recovered.

Vasquez, who served two tours of duty in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, rocked Stevenson with regularity. A huge uppercut sent the taller fighter reeling.

The fight looked over, but Stevenson dug deep and held on.

Vasquez continued to tattoo Stevenson with multiple punches to head and body.

Stevenson tried to turn the tables in round eight, but a combination of exhaustion and punches sent him to the canvas. His legs were gone.

As he stood up before round nine began, the courageous fighter was obviously finished.

At the bell, Vasquez went for the kill. Referee Ernie Sharif soon waved off the contest.

The time was 25 seconds into round nine.

The stoppage was the seventh in a row for Vasquez.

“He’s a tough fighter, a great fighter,” Vasquez told Andrew Erickson of the “I hadn’t been past six rounds. Overall, I think I did a great job.”

The bout was televised on Fox Sports 1 and promoted by Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions.


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