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Breland Comeback Begins With Third-Round KO

January 27, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ The spark is back as far as Mark Breland is concerned.

The former two-time WBA welterweight champion, idle since retiring in November 1992, started a comeback Saturday by stopping Riccardo Smith of Syracuse, N.Y., 30 seconds into the third round of a scheduled 10-round junior middleweight bout.

Breland, who admitted he retired because the desire the fight had left him, used a right uppercut to send Smith to the canvas in the third round.

While Smith, 153 1/2, was on one knee taking a count, referee Fred Ucci stopped the fight.

Smith, who is 0-8-1 in his last nine fights to fall to a career mark of 7-11-1, went down for the first time in the second round after a hard right to the body.

``I felt awkward in the opening round,″ said the 32-year-old Breland, 154, who is 31-3-1 with 23 knockouts.

``It was good to get the first shot in.

``My jab had been poor in training camp but there’s a big difference between that and actually getting into the ring. I felt good in the locker room and thought everything would come together.

``My jab was definitely what put a damper on him. It gave me some old spark, a feeling I haven’t had in almost four years.″

Asked if he had butterflies before the bout, he laughed and said: ``Not butterflies, bats.″

Breland’s eventual goal is a shot at Terry Norris, the IBF and WBC 154-pound champion.

``I won’t be ready for that until probably November,″ said Breland, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and five-time New York Golden Gloves champion.

``My plans are to fight once a month. There’s also some talk of getting on the same card with Tommy Hearns here in New York, possibly in April or May.″

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