LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Alexis Arguello's heart tells him to keep boxing. His reflexes scream at him to stop.

At the age of 43, the heart appears to be winning out.

``I'm proud of what I did,'' Arguello said after a fighter nicknamed ``The Pink Cat'' temporarily derailed his comeback bid Saturday night. ``This is my business. I love it.''

Despite the loss, Arguello managed to stay upbeat in his dressing room after the fight, nursing a swollen left hand that may be broken again and smiling through a bruised face.

But after a performance that raised more questions about his ability to perform at an advanced age for boxers, there was little to be happy about.

``I would try to persuade him to see it another way,'' said a diplomatic Eddie Futch, Arguello's trainer.

Arguello lost almost all the early rounds before a 10th-round rally pulled him close on two scorecards. A third judge had Arguello winning only two of the 10 rounds against pink-clad Scott Walker.

Walker, who had gone 10 rounds only once before, beat Arguello to the punch repeatedly and scored with quick combinations. Arguello seemed unable to pull the trigger on his punches, and when he did, Walker was long out of the way.

``I guess I am a masochist,'' Arguello said. ``I wanted a fighter who could push me. I wanted to compete with this youngster.''

Arguello may have wanted to compete, but his reflexes wouldn't let him. A fighter he would have disposed of easily in his prime had dominated him, exposing Arguello as the 43-year-old fighter he is.

Unlike George Foreman, who can make up for his lost skills with the tremendous power he still retains, Arguello had to rely on his boxing ability. He came up short Saturday night.

``He was using a lot of speed, and when you use the speed at my age, most guys don't even see the punches,'' Arguello admitted. ``The kid did a hell of a job.''

It was the second comeback fight for the three-time former champion, who had fought only once in eight years, but who proved such an attraction that would-be ticket buyers were turned away from the small room in a neighborhood casino.

The 25-year-old Walker was a fan of Arguello's when he reigned as a champion, winning 19 of 22 title fights.

``He was a great fighter. I remember watching him as a kid,'' Walker said. ``He's still a good fighter, but he's not what he used to be.''

Arguello, 142, earned $20,000 for the fight, which he planned as the first of a series of bouts that would culminate in a title shot by the end of the year.