NEW YORK -- In a confrontation between veteran boxer and young slugger, the puncher prevailed at The Paramount last night, with unbeaten Lamar Parks knocking out Baltimore's Percy Harris at 2:50 of the 10th round of their match for both the USBA and NABF middleweight titles.
Harris, 28, who used his superior height and boxing ability to keep the scheduled 12-rounder relatively even, began to show signs of fatigue in the seventh round. In fact, Harris was leading on one judge's card after nine rounds.
Parks, 22, from Greenville, S.C., who has knocked out all but four of his 21 pro rivals, caught Harris with a booming right late in the 10th. The Baltimorean's legs shook noticeably, and Parks seized the opportunity by flooring Harris with a left-right combination.
The 6-foot-3 Harris appeared to stagger down, but miraculously regained his feet at the count of six. Two more punches by Parks convinced referee Arthur Mercante Jr. that Harris (15-3, 9 KOs) was finished.
In losing, Harris still retained the Intercontinental crown he won from Thomas Tate in December. But he was a gracious loser, proclaiming the youthful Parks "a future world champion."
Harris' boastful manner at the prefight weigh-in yesterday and during the gloves ceremony made Parks more determined to knock him out.
"Percy started talking 'big noise,' before the fight and saying how I'd fought nothing but 'cakewalks,' " said Parks, who sported large welts under both eyes. "But when he put his hands on me, I wanted to kill him. He called me a boy. I'm 22. I'm a man."
Parks proved that last night by withstanding all of Harris' ring tricks and gamesmanship.
"I let a 22-year-old spike me and beat me into the ground," said Harris. "Early in the fight, I tried to box him, but I didn't think I was getting to him. So I took the fight to him. But by the sixth round, his big right hands began to take their toll. He wore me down."
Harris' cornerman, Truman Tuttle, questioned his fighter's judgment in slugging it out with Parks, who hopes to fight the winner of Wednesday's fight between Reggie Johnson and Steve Collins for the vacant WBA title.
Harris seemed to stun his rival with several crisp combinations when Parks fought off the ropes, looking to counter. The accumulation of Harris' punches kept the crowd of 2,093 in suspense.
"If I'm not dominating each round, I feel I'm losing the fight," said Parks. "And my father [David] was getting on me for loading up for the big punch. But even though Percy didn't show it, I knew my punches were hurting him. He started to weaken in the sixth round, and when I hurt him in the 10th, I made sure he wouldn't get away."
While Parks prepared for a lucrative title fight, Harris, surrounded by his wife, Yolande, and his handlers, said, "For me, it's back to the drawing board."
Earlier, Michael "Dynamite" Dokes, 33, who was once considered one of boxing's brightest stars and briefly held the WBA heavyweight crown in the early 1980s, continued his ring comeback with a third-round knockout of journeyman Danny Sutton of Spartanburg, S.C.
Dokes, seemingly carrying most of his 239 pounds around his belt line, needed two rounds to cut off the ring and catch Sutton. But once Sutton (28-18-18 KOs) stopped backtracking long enough to exchange a few blows, it proved his undoing.
Dokes trapped Sutton in a neutral corner and landed a hard right high on the temple. As Sutton began to sag, Dokes caught him with a hook to the midsection. Sutton dropped to the canvas and showed no inclination to get up, as referee Wayne Kelly stopped it at 2:54 of the third round.
Now fighting out of Las Vegas, Dokes (47-3-2, 32 KOs) has won six straight bouts against journeyman heavyweights since being knocked out by Razor Ruddock two years ago.
Once considered one of the superior heavyweight talents, Dokes fell victim to drugs and alcohol after winning the title in 1982 with a first-round knockout of Mike Weaver. After fighting a draw with Weaver in a rematch, Dokes lost his crown in 1983 when he was knocked out in the 10th round by South Africa's Gerrie Coetzee.
Between visits to drug and detoxification clinics, Dokes remained a contender. But wary promoters hesitated to give him major purses.
In his only major bout in the past four years, he fought a spirited battle with future heavyweight king Evander Holyfield before being stopped in the 10th round.
"You're calling it a comeback, but I never really left," Dokes said. "I just had some personal problems I had to correct.
"I'm a recovering addict," he said candidly.