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Filipino Tepora stops Ortega to win featherweight world crown

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by Daniel HICKS

Jhack Tepora gave fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao a boost before his showdown with Lucas Matthysse on Sunday by stopping Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega to win the interim World Boxing Association featherweight title.

Cebu’s Tepora, fighting on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse world title bill in Kuala Lumpur, unleashed a wicked short right hand in the ninth round to knock down Ortega for the first time in what had been to that point an even contest.

He swiftly followed up with a barrage of powerful swinging punches that forced the referee to step in after 2min 38sec of round nine.

“I didn’t expect the win but I really trained hard for this fight for three long months,” said the big-punching Tepora who extended his unbeaten record to 22 wins with 17 inside the distance.

He cited boxing icon Pacquiao as his inspiration. “This is more than a dream come true,” said Tepora.

“When I saw Manny’s story, coming from the streets, I thought one day I could be like that and this is the first step to that dream.”

Earlier Lu Bin’s brave bid for a historic world title win in his second professional fight came crashing to earth as he was knocked out in the dying seconds.

The Chinese rookie from Jinan held his own in a battling display until experienced WBA light flyweight champion Carlos Canizales of Venezuela finished the contest in devastating fashion.

Lu was felled near the end of the 11th round for the first time in his short pro career.

And Canizales went for the kill in the 12th and final stanza. After a barrage of punches a storming straight right dropped Lu and the referee waved it off as the final bell was about to sound.

The exhausted, stricken 23-year-old left the ring at the Axiata Arena on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.

Lu is a former youth world amateur champion from Jinan in Shandong province trained by Pacquiao’s long-time corner man Buboy Fernandez.

– ‘I was ready for him’ –
“It was hard for me to figure out his style,” said Canizales who extended his unbeaten record to 21 wins and a lone draw. “I also fought as an amateur so I understood the rhythm, I was ready for him.”

Victory for Lu would have set a record for fastest man to win a world title, in terms of number of fights.

That record is jointly held by Thai super lightweight Saensak Muangsurin and Ukrainian lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, who both won championships in their third pro bouts.

Earlier Moruti Mthalane from KwaZulu Natal in South Africa got off the canvas to take home the vacant International Boxing Federation flyweight title by outpointing Waseem Muhammad, who was bidding to become Pakistan’s first ever world champion.

“Baby Face” Mthalane had been in control of a hard-fought contest fight for long periods until Waseem found a stinging left to drop him to the floor just seconds from the end of the 11th round.

The 12th turned into an all-action brawl as both men tried to finish it.

But Mthalane had done enough to edge a unanimous decision 114-113, 114-113, 116-110 and extend his career record to 36 wins with two defeats.

For 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Waseem it was a first loss in his ninth professional contest. (Agence France-Presse/AFP)