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Froch survives early Taylor barrage to retain title

BRITON Carl Froch recovered from an early knockdown to stop American Jermain Taylor in the final round of his WBC super middleweight title defense in Mashantucket, Connecticut, on Saturday.

Behind on the judges scorecards, Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) hurt Taylor with a big right early in the round and the Englishman continued to attack his reeling opponent, until another pair of booming rights dropped the American in the corner.

Taylor struggled to his feet at the count of eight but another barrage of punches caused referee Michael Ortega to halt the contest with 14 seconds remaining.

"Going into that last round, I was hoping my intuition was right that Jermain was getting a little bit tired from the pressure I was putting on him," Froch told reporters.

"So I put the pressure on him."

Had the former middleweight champion Taylor been able to make it to the end of the round, he would have won a split decision as two of the three judges had him leading 106-102, while the third judge had Froch ahead by the same score.

Taylor, 28-3-1 (17 KOs) started brightly, landing his left jab and overhand rights over Froch's low left hand. In the third, Taylor landed a big right cross that elicited a smile from his opponent and followed it with another right that spun Froch into the ropes.

A left-right combination dropped Froch to the seat of his pants along the ropes, the first knockdown he had suffered in his career. Taylor did not press his advantage, however, and Froch survived the round.

The fight began to turn in the sixth, as Froch became more assertive and increased his punch output, forcing Taylor on to the back foot with powerful right hands.

In Krefeld, Germany, Felix Sturm handed Koji Sato his first defeat by stopping the Japanese challenger in the seventh round to retain his WBA middleweight title on Saturday.

Sturm dominated with his left jab, nearly closing Sato's right eye. The referee stopped the fight with 14 seconds remaining in the round with Sato's trainer about to throw it the towel.

Sturm improved to 32-2 with one draw. Sato suffered his first loss in 15 fights.

By the time the fight was stopped, Sato was bleeding from cuts on both sides of his face. "The champion was very strong tonight," Sato said.


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