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Michalczewski Pounds Rocchigiani

April 15, 2000

HANOVER, Germany (AP) _ Dariusz Michalczewski retained his WBO light heavyweight title Saturday when swollen-faced German challenger Graciano Rocchigiani quit after the ninth round.

Michalczewski, 42-0 with 35 knockouts, ended a bruising fight against the WBC No. 1 challenger with a body shot, dropping Rocchigiani to his knees for the first time in his long career.

The 31-year-old Polish-born German, right after a clinch, stepped in and surprised Rocchigiani with the shot, ending a fight he dominated after the first two rounds.

``The liver shot took his strength away,″ Michalczewski, who has owned four titles, said of the punch. ``It wasn’t my toughest fight. But I always have to prove I’m one of the best in the world.″

MIchalczewski, after solving Rocchigiani’s peek-a-boo style, got sharper and more confident with each round, especially after a straight left snapped Rocchigiani’s head back in the fourth.

``I just had enough,″ Rocchigiani said of why he quit.

Rocchigiani, 40-5-1, is a former IBF super middleweight champion who beat Michael Nunn two years ago to claim what was then the open WBC light heavyweight title.

But Roy Jones Jr. was given back the title when he decided not to move up to heavyweight.

Michalczewski, ranked right behind Jones in the independent International Boxing Organization, again said he wants a fight against the American.

``Jones is clearly the goal,″ said Michalczewski’s trainer Fritz Smudek. ``Michalczewski has beaten everybody else.″

Rocchigiani, 36, had all but beaten Michalczewski four years ago, dominating over seven rounds until he knocked his German rival out. But it was a late blow and he was disqualified.

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