Holmes KOs Taylor, wins WBC middleweight title IBF champion Hopkins finishes Lipsey in 4th

March 17, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS - Before getting his first title chance against World Boxing Council middleweight champion Quincy Taylor of Dallas on the undercard of the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno fight last night, Washington's Keith Holmes spent a night of anxiety at the MGM Grand.

"I was like a nightmare waiting for the fight to start," said Holmes, a 4-1 underdog. "I saw Quincy everywhere, even in my cereal bowl."

But it was Taylor who experienced the real nightmare when the cautious Holmes, who had jabbed and danced his way to a slim lead over the first eight rounds, suddenly exploded a right cross on his chin in the ninth round.

Taylor crumpled in a neutral corner, but managed to beat referee Richard Steele's count. But there was no escaping Holmes, who landed 11 unanswered blows, including a crunching left hook before Steele stopped it at 1: 43 of the round.

"Steele had told us before the fight that if one of us wasn't fighting back, he'd stop it," Holmes (28-1, 18 KOs) recalled.

"Actually, I was surprised Taylor got off the floor. When I landed that big right, I felt his jaw move. But when he got up, the thing on my mind was not to stop throwing punches until the referee decides it's enough."

Taylor (26-4, 22 KOs), who was making his first title defense since stopping Julian Jackson in six rounds last August, did not protest Steele's decision.

"I just got hit with a real good punch," he said.

The left-handed Holmes, 27, was tutored by former Ray Leonard trainer Janks Morton early in his career, but had Claude Boger as his chief cornerman last night.

Said Boger, "I didn't want Keith to get into a slugging match with Taylor, just to keep using his jab, be patient, and wait for an opening to land the big punch."

The slender Holmes, who, at 6 feet 2 had a 7-inch reach advantage, followed orders precisely, proving too elusive for Taylor, who was wearing a brace on his left knee.

"Every time I hit him with the jab, he was blinking," the new champion said. "My corner was yelling 'Throw the left,' but I knew he was still dangerous. I'd watched so many tapes of him, I knew his underwear size."

In an earlier bout, International Boxing Federation middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, of Philadelphia, entered the MGM Grand ring accompanied surrounded by two huge guards carrying executioner's axes. His challenger, Joe Lipsey, of Lansing, Mich., bore a small metal hammer. Guess who won?

After a tentative first round and having a welt raised over his left eye in the second as the result of a head butt, Hopkins warmed to the task.

He caught Lipsey with several stiff combinations in the third round before finishing him with a lightning barrage at 2: 50 of the fourth round that began and ended with an uppercut.

Referee Mitch Halpern did not bother to count over Lipsey, who hit the canvas with a thud.

There was a frightening moment when Lipsey, after being helped to his feet, collapsed again.

A ringside physician was summoned, but Lipsey, losing for the first time in 26 bouts, was able to leave the ring without assistance.

"It was just a reaction from his asthma condition," said his father, Joe Lipsey Sr. "He's doing just fine now."

An asthma attack had forced Lipsey to postpone a scheduled January match with Hopkins on a Don King cable show. Instead, Hopkins fought last-minute replacement Steve Frank, who lasted all of 24 seconds, a record for a middleweight championship bout.

"I know the fans were disappointed the last time I fought. This time at least I gave you three rounds," said Hopkins, making his second title defense and raising his record to 29-2-1.

The Hopkins-Lipsey fight, shown on ABC's Wide World of Sports, served as an appetizer to the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno heavyweight championship bout last night.

There was no admission charge, but only some 3,000 bothered to watch.

Pub Date: 3/17/96

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