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Cotto-Margarito undercard: Rios, Jones and Rodriguez earn victories

December 3, 2011 |  9:07 pm


Oxnard’s Brandon Rios, a day removed from being sick and gaunt while failing to make the 135-pound lightweight limit, overcame a slow start to overwhelm Englishman John Murray by 11th-round technical knockout in the semi-main event on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito undercard.

Rios (29-0-1, 21 knockouts) battered Murray (31-2) with hard uppercuts in the 11th, backing the Brit to the ropes and surging forward to deliver more punishment when referee Earl Brown stepped in to stop the fight at the 2:06 mark.

“Murray’s a great warrior and deserves a lot of respect,” Rios said after disrespecting his opponent at a Thursday news conference. “I got him with a right uppercut and left hook.”

The 25-year-old Rios now can carry on with his plan to move up to the talent-loaded 140-pound division, where he is seeking a date with either Marcos Maidana or Juan Manuel Marquez.

The pay-per-view portion of the undercard opened with a convincing unanimous-decision victory by Philadelphia’s unbeaten Mike Jones, who so dominated Argentina’s Sebastian Lujan during the early rounds that Lujan walked to Jones’ corner after the fifth round.

Almost comically, Jones (26-0) directed Lujan (38-6-2) to the correct corner, leaving a sheepish Lujan to shrug.

Jones won the fight by scores of 119-109 (judge Waleska Roldan), 119-109 (Ron McNair) and 118-110 (Don Ackerman). Jones nearly knocked out Lujan in the final minute of the 11th round, but settled for the victory in the International Boxing Federation welterweight title eliminator.

“There’s no easy fights,” Jones said. “It was tough because he threw a lot of awkward shots. I was always on my guard. But I thought I won every round.”

Also, junior-middleweight Delvin Rodriguez punctuated his July fight-of-the-year candidate draw with New Jersey’s Pawel Wolak by dominating the rematch in a unanimous decision by scores of 98-91, 98-92 and 100-90.

Rodriguez (26-5-3) used his reach and counter-punching advantages to beat up the ever-charging Wolak (29-2-1), swatting Wolak’s head with rights and uppercuts.

The tough Wolak, a union asphalt roofer in New York, often nodded to Rodriguez that the heavy blows weren’t hurting, but his right eye was badly swollen by the sixth round and his desire was no match for Rodriguez’s skill.

Rodriguez connected on 90 more punches.

Judge John McKaie scored the 10th round 10-8 for Rodriguez as he unleashed combinations and barrages that set up a right uppercut that wobbled Wolak.

“I don’t know what kept him up,” Rodriguez said.

Another hard right and uppercut capped the impressive finish.

“I knew I needed to close the show this time,” Rodriguez said after enduring Wolak’s body punches. “I wasn’t taking any chances.”

--Lance Pugmire

Photo: Brandon Rios lands a right to the head of John Murray during their bout on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press