ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Former champion Vinny Pazienza continued his miraculous comeback from neck surgery, stopping Lloyd Honeyghan of England in the 10th round of a non-tile bout at Convention Hall last night.
Pazienza (34-5, 26 KOs), in complete command from the opening bell, floored Honeyghan in the third and ninth rounds before the near-riotous ending in the 10th.
Trying to save his fighter from a further whipping, Honeyghan's manager, Mickey Duff, tossed in the towel with 56 seconds left in the round.
New Jersey boxing chairman Larry Hazzard immediately jumped in the ring to end the fight. But when Honeyghan, not seeing the towel, continued to throw punches at Pazienza, everyone soon joined in the act.
When peace was finally restored, Pazienza was awarded a technical knockout, and Honeyghan (41-4, 25 KOS) a two-time welterweight king, seemed ready for retirement.
"I feel I just won the people's championship," said a jubilant Pazienza, who was a clear favorite of the near-sellout crowd of 10,000.
This was Pazienza's third straight victory after his ring career appeared ended by an auto accident in 1991 in which he suffered two broken bones in his neck.
Going against all advice to retire, he returned to training several months after the crash, punching a heavy bag and shadow boxing while wearing a neck brace.
"There is always a risk in boxing, but it's a game where only the strong survive," said the Rhode Island native. "I'm doing what I want to do, making friends and kicking some butt along the way. I believe in making good things happen out of bad."
Pazienza was stripped of his World Boxing Association junior middleweight title for being idle 17 months, but is now rated among the top contenders. He is the only fighter other than Panama's Roberto Duran to have won the 135- and 154-pound crowns.
Honeyghan, who twice owned the welterweight championship before being knocked out in three rounds by Mark Breland in England three years ago, also has had his share of misfortune.
Three months ago, the Londoner suffered a concussion after being attacked by a disgruntled sparring partner. But it did not seriously disrupt his training for Pazienza.
Honeyghan, his head shaven, was dressed in a black robe and matching trunks. The free-spirited Pazienza was in cave man attire with frilly mauve trunks.
Once solely a walk-in banger, Pazienza started the fight in his boxing mode, dancing and weaving in and out in a crouch to frustrate the stalking Briton. But Pazienza turned aggressive in the closing seconds of the first round, jarring Honeyghan with an overhand right.
Pazienza quickly moved to the attack in the second round. He staggered Honeyghan with several hard body shots and kept him pinned in a neutral corner.
Honeyghan rallied behind a sharp jab that set up two jarring rights to the head. But it was Pazienza who closed the round with a crowd-pleasing, four-punch flurry.
The action picked up in the third, the fighters going toe-to-toe when Pazienza wobbled Honeyghan with an uppercut. Two more punches put Honeyghan on the floor.
Pazienza tried to finish the job, sending Honeyghan's mouthpiece flying with a right cross. But Honeyghan showed his stamina in weathering the final minute of the round.
In the fourth, Pazienza taunted Honeyghan, beating his chest in reply to a series of punches by his British rival. His clowning proved costly when Honeyghan landed two brutal left hooks square on the chin.
Honeyghan grew more confident, and Pazienza received a warning from chief cornerman Kevin Rooney to stay focused.
In the fifth round, Pazienza staggered Honeyghan repeatedly, chasing him from corner to corner.
Honeyghan got frisky again in the sixth round as the pace slackened.
But Pazienza landed a left hook midway through the round that knocked his foe against the ropes.
It was more of the same in the seventh and eighth rounds, with Pazienza forcing the action but unable to catch Honeyghan cleanly.
Pazienza pushed Honeyghan through the ropes and onto the ring apron in the ninth round, but it was not ruled a knockdown. But Pazienza made it count the next time, again using an uppercut to drop Honeyghan, who regained his feet just before the bell sounded.
John John Molina of Puerto Rico opened the televised portion of the pay-per-view show by defending his International Boxing Federation lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Manuel Medina of Mexico.
Judge Frank Brunette of New Jersey scored it 117-111; Nelson Vasquez of Puerto Rico voted for his countryman 116-112, and Robert Cox of Arizona had it 115-113 for the champion.
Cheered on by a contingent of flag-waving fans, Molina (32-3, 23 KOs) dominated the action, forcing Medina, the former IBF lightweight king, into a steady retreat.
Dominating the early rounds, Molina scored repeatedly with looping right hands and combinations.
Medina (47-5, 22 KOs) failed to land a telling punch in the first nine rounds.
Realizing he needed a knockout to win, Medina became aggressive in the 11th and 12th rounds. But the Tijuana boxer's momentum was stalled by a cut over his right eye.