HOUSTON (AP) _ Two-time U.S. featherweight champion Ricardo Juarez, spurred on by his hometown crowd, rallied to outpoint Baktijar Tilegenov of Kazakhstan 4-1 Friday in the opening round of the World Amateur Boxing Championships.

Juarez, beaten to the punch in the first two rounds by Tilegenov, took the fight inside in the third and final round, keeping up the pressure by landing heavier punches to the head and body.

Middleweight Akin Kuloglu of Turkey knocked down American Jerson Ravelo in the fourth round and the bout was stopped because of head blows. Ravelo is the 1999 U.S. Challenge Championships champion.

Ravelo had taken the fight to Kuloglu in the early rounds before taking a right hand to the head in the fourth round sent him to the canvas. He beat the count on wobbly legs before the referee decided to stop the fight.

Two-time Olympic heavyweight Felix Savon of Cuba easily won his first-round fight against Deividas Nekrasas of Lithuania when the referee stopped the fight in the second round.

Savon hit Nekrasas with a straight hand, prompting the referee to end the bout.

Savon's superiority was evident from the outset, as he kept his shorter opponent at bay with spearing jabs that he followed with jolting right hands. When Nekrasas did manage to get inside, Savon tagged him with a variety of hooks and upper cuts.

The Cuban delegation declined an interview request from The Associated Press.

Cuba and Russia are expected to battle for the team title in the tournament that drew 274 fighters from 54 countries to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Weight class finals will be held next Wednesday and Thursday.

The tournament is not a qualifier for the Olympics but 18 fighters who won medals in the 1995 World Championships also earned medals in the 1996 Olympic Games.

Cuba won the team title in 1995 and Russia captured it two years later, although four Russian champions from 1997 will not compete here.

In other featherweight fights, Judel Jhonson of Cuba outpointed 1998 Goodwill Games bronze medalist Alexandre Mitshev of Russia; Ranaz Paliani of Turkey used his superior reach to outpoint 1998 European Championships bronze medalist Reidar Walstad of Norway; and Falk Huste of Germany, the 1998 European champion and a silver medalist in the 1997 World Championships, outpointed Boris Georgiadis of Greece.

In other middleweight fights, Adrian Diaconv of Romania outpointed 1996 Olympic champion Ariel Hernandez of Cuba and Vyacheslav Burba Kaz of Kazakhstan outpointed 1998 European champion Zsolt Erdei of Hungary. Erdei also was the 1997 World Championships winner.