WASHINGTON -- Andrew Maynard set his sights on WBA light-heavyweight king Tommy Hearns after stopping shopworn former champion Saad Muhammad after 20 seconds of the third round of their scheduled 10-round bout at the Convention Center.
Maynard, who has lost only to Bobby Czyz in his 19 professional bouts after winning the 1988 Olympic gold medal, pummeled Muhammad, 37, from the opening bell. After Muhammad was cornered at the start of round three and caught with at least 20 unanswered blows, referee Sylvester Stevens mercifully stopped the mismatch.
Muhammad (39-15-3), who fought under the name of Matt Franklin when he dominated his class in the late Seventies, has won only one of his last seven fights and should be barred by boxing commissions from fighting again.
Asked if he felt sympathy for the battered ex-champion, Maynard said, "This is a job. He was in front of me, so I had to stop him. He tried to intimidate me by not touching gloves at the opening bell, but I didn't take it personally."
Maynard has reverted to his walk-in style of brawling under trainer Junious Hinton after meeting frustration trying to box under the tutelage of Pepe Correa.
"My old trainer called it boxing, but I called it dancing," said the Laurel light-heavyweight. "Winning a fight this way gives me confidence I can fight my old style."
Some of the crowd voiced disapproval of the referee's action, but Hinton said, "Stevens did a good job in stopping it. You don't need a guy stretched out cold to prove Maynard is a puncher.
"I'd like Andrew to have a couple of more bouts to feel comfortable with his style, then we'll fight anyone, Czyz included."
Unbeaten lightweight Sharmba Mitchell (25-0, 14 KOs), of Takoma Park, toyed with Washington rival Keeley Thompson (17-8-1, 12 KOs) for nine rounds before stopping him at 38 seconds of the 10th round to claim the IBC Intercontinental title.
Mitchell, rated No. 3 in the world by the World Boxing Council, is not known for his punching prowess. But he dropped Thompson with a short left hook in the opening round and had his taller opponent in repeated trouble in a classic mismatch.
After Thompson was floored in the 10th, referee Marshall Cunningham allowed the fight to continue. But Thompson's handlers jumped into the ring to rescue their beaten fighter.