Taylor blows out Primera!
Pictures by Sandy Goldberg.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Middleweight prospect Jermain Taylor wanted to give something to his hometown fans packed into the Statehouse Convention Center and he did just that with an electrifying performance in perhaps the biggest test of his young career.

Taylor (15-0, 11 KOs), the 2000 Olympic Bronze Medal winner and an Arkansas native, pulverized Venezuelan middleweight Marcos Primera (14-4, 9 KOs), stopping him in the fifth round Monday night in the main event of Lou DiBella's "Monday Night Fights."Taylor versus Primera

"Arkansas loves me, I love you Arkansas," Taylor said after the fight. "It's beautiful fighting at home."

The Arkansan began the first round by jabbing at Primera for the first two minutes, then opening up and landing some powerful left hooks to his opponent's face in the final minute of the round.

The second round saw Taylor peppering Primera with the jab. In the third, Primera was rocked repeatedly by numerous right hands and left hooks to both the face and body from Taylor.

Taylor continued to pressure Primera in the fourth round and dropped the Venezuelan with 35 seconds left in the round by hurting him with a right uppercut and following it up with a four-punch combination. Primera rose to his feet and finished the round.

Through the first four rounds Primera seemed to be trying to counterpunch and take Taylor out with onAdolph stops the fight.e big shot, but Taylor simply had too much hand speed and quickness for Primera to do that.

In the fifth round Primera attempted to throw more punches and pressure Taylor but was dropped by a lightning-fast counter left hook with 50 seconds left in the round. Referee Elmo Adolph stopped the fight at the count of three when it appeared Primera had no desire to continue.

Despite the win, Taylor said he wasn't completely satisfied with his performance.

"I felt like I wasn't throwing enough combinations," Taylor said. "Overall, I give myself a 'B.'"

On the undercard, Nicaraguan WBA junior flyweight champion Rosendo Alvarez (32-2-1, 21 KOs) retained his title with a 12-round majority decision over Colombian boxer-puncher Bebis Mendoza (29-2, 24 KOs) in a clAlvarez celebrates his victory.ose, fast-paced fight.

Mendoza appeared to outwork Alvarez in the first four rounds by staying to the outside and landing his jab consistently. Alvarez was the aggressor, but Mendoza countered effectively in the first third of the fight.

Alvarez began to impose his will in the middle rounds, landing power shots more consistently, even though these rounds were very close with both fighters landing lots of punches.

Starting with the tenth round, Alvarez began to out jab Mendoza, allowing him to land more hard, accurate power shots. Alvarez then outworked and outlanded Mendoza down the stretch, allowing him to come away with a 114-114, 116-112, 116-112 majority decision.

Perennial lightweight contender Angel Manfredy (41-6-1, 30 KOs) stopped 34-year-old Colombian slugger Moises Pedroza (24-5-1, 21 KOs) after struggling with Pedroza throughout the first three rounds of the fight.

Pedroza came out strongly in the opening round, landing several looping right hands to his opponent's face. Manfredy Manfredy lands a right to Pedroza's face.adjusted well in the second and third rounds, landing about as many power shots as Pedroza.

Manfredy began to dominate Pedroza in the next round, snapping Pedroza's head back with left hooks and straight rights consistently. He punctuated the fourth by landing a huge combination with Pedroza trapped against the ropes with 50 seconds left in the round.

In rounds five, six and seven Manfredy landed powerful left hooks to the head of Pedroza over and over again, leaving the right side of the Colombian's face a swollen and bloody mess.Pedroza in disbelief.

Referee Joe Miller stopped the action with 1:45 remaining in the seventh round after a big Manfredy combination, though it appeared Pedroza could have continued.

After the fight, Manfredy expressed interest in a lucrative rematch with Arturo Gatti, who he stopped in eight rounds in 1998.

"If Gatti wants to fight me, bring it," Manfredy said. "I mean, we could work it out if they bring the right money."

Heavyweight Eric Kirkland (15-1, 11 KOs) dominated and stopped hard-punching southpaw prospect Derek Bryant (16-1, 14 KOs) by TKO in the ninth round of the opening bout of the telecast.Bryant leaning on ropes as Kirkland closes in.

Kirkland, who had fought only once since December 2001, started strongly by stunning Bryant with three big right hands a minute into the opening round. Bryant refused to pressure Kirkland and allowed his opponent to pummel him throughout the first three rounds.

The lethargic Bryant continued to allow Kirkland to tire him out with big power shots to his face and body in the middle rounds, opening a large cut over his left eye.

After several more rounds of Bryant refusing to throw punches and laying on the ropes, referee Joe Miller stopped the fight with 54 seconds left in the ninth round after a barrage of unanswered power shots from Kirkland.

Story © Andres Buenaventura 2003. All rights reserved.