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August 1, 2014

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Tszyu adds WBA title to WBC crown

LAS VEGAS - Kostya Tszyu added a second piece of the 140-pound title to his collection Saturday night, beating WBA champion Sharmba Mitchell in a bout that at times looked more like a wrestling event than a fight.

Mitchell quit on his stool at the end of the seventh round after apparently aggravating an injury in his left knee during one of many clinches with Tszyu in a fight that didn't win any marks for style points.

"It wasn't a nice fight," Tszyu said.

Tszyu, the WBC super lightweight champion, landed the more effective and harder punches and had Mitchell down on the canvas five times in the fight. Most of them came when Tszyu threw Mitchell down in clinches, and none were counted as knockdowns.

Tszyu, a 4-1 favorite, led by three points on one card and four on another after seven rounds. A third judge had it even.

Mitchell, who hadn't lost since 1994, said before the fight that his left knee, which he had operated on two years ago, had been bothering him in the days leading up to the bout.

He decided to go ahead with the fight, anyway, and the knee didn't appear to bother him until he and Tszyu got into yet another clinch midway through the seventh round. He limped the rest of the round, and quit on his stool after the round.

"He was talking about an injury before the fight but then he got in the ring. And once you get in the ring there are no excuses. You have to fight," Tszyu said.

The win put Tszyu, a Russian native who lives in Australia, in line for a summer fight against undefeated IBF champion Zab Judah to unify all three 140-pound titles.

Judah was at ringside to watch the fight.

Mitchell came out using movement to try and frustrate Tszyu and won the first round. But Tszyu began figuring out ways to cut the ring off and get inside of Mitchell late in the first round, and began scoring effectively in the second.

Mitchell repeatedly held onto Tszyu as he came inside, and Tszyu responded on several occasions by throwing him to the canvas. He was penalized a point for doing so by referee Joe Cortez in the fourth round.

Tszyu (26-1-1, 22 knockouts) wasn't able to knock Mitchell down with a punch, but he opened a cut over Mitchell's right eye in the fifth round and had him bleeding out his nose in the second.

Mitchell (47-3) had won 16 straight fights and was defending his WBA championship for the fifth time.

Mitchell, who weighed in at 139 pounds a day before the right, earned $900,000, while Tszyu, 140, was paid $800,000.

In another fight, the vacant WBO junior flyweight title remained that way after Andy Tabanas and Falan Sakkeerin fought to a 12-round draw.

Tabanas, 108, of the Philippines, landed the heavier punches but Sakkeerin was busier in a lackluster fight that drew boos from the first round on. Sakkeerin, 107 1/2 , of Thailand, was favored 115-113 on one scorecard, while Tabanas was ahead 116-112 on a second. A third judge had it 114-114.

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