Roy Jones retains title on TKO

Sunday, September 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. retained his title when challenger Eric Harding was unable to come out for the 11th round Saturday night.

Jones (43-1, 35 KOs) was given a technical knockout when Harding remained in his corner with a torn left biceps. Harding sustained the injury in the second round.

"I tried to hit him with an overhand left," Harding said. "He blocked it with a right."

Dr. Jerry Rosenberg said Harding could not lift his arm when he stopped the fight.

Harding (19-1-1, 6 KOs), the IBF's top-ranked contender, was a heavy underdog in the fight, but was frequently the aggressor against Jones, who seemed tentative early on and lethargic throughout.

"I didn't train like I needed to," Jones said. "I had too many things to do. Too many promotions and things."

Jones had spent the weeks leading up to the fight hyping the pay-per-view. Those sales will determine Jones purse. Harding received $600,000.

"He hit me with some shots," Harding said. "But he wasn't hurting me at all. He doesn't hit that hard."

Jones was ahead by three points on all three officials' cards when the fight was stopped, although the crowd seemed to have turned in favor of Harding.

Both fighters were tentative in the first round. Neither landed a punch until Harding slipped in a couple of light jabs with 1:18 left in the round and the fans booing.

The booing increased in the second round as Jones remained cautious about moving in against Harding's greater reach. When Jones did step in to deliver a body blow, Harding countered with a sharp jab to Jones' head.

The first round in which Jones was clearly the aggressor was the fourth, when he finally moved inside, forcing Harding to cover up.

But Jones' punches hit Harding's gloves for the most part.

In the fifth round Harding backed Jones into a corner and delivered a barrage to his body before Jones fought his way out.

By the sixth round the crowd was booing loudly as the fighters traded few blows. They mixed it up more in the seventh, with Jones fighting his way inside to attack Harding's body.

Fans began chanting "Eric, Eric, Eric," in the ninth round and Jones responded with an aggressive series to the head and body.

Jones opened the 10th round with a series of combinations as Harding favored his left arm more.

"I wanted to take him to the late rounds," Jones said. "Why take a chance early when he's dangerous."

In earlier bouts, Derrick "Smoke" Gainer took Fred "Lil'

Hagler" Norwood's WBA featherweight title Saturday night in a controversial 11th round TKO. The referee stopped the fight after the boxers traded low blows.

Junior featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera held off challenger Jose Luis Vaqlbuena.

In earlier bouts, heavyweight Kelvin Davis (11-0) beat Maurice Marshall (6-1) with a TKO 28 seconds into the second round of a scheduled six-round bout. Welterweight Antonio Young (1-3-1) beat Mujtabaa Muhammad, who was making his pro debut, in a four-round unanimous decision.