EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Oscar's night was a short one, and the fans of El Paso couldn't have been happier.

Fighting before a frenzied crowd of some 50,000, Oscar De La Hoya put on a brief but brutally efficient show by stopping Patrick Charpentier of France in the third round to retain his WBC welterweight title fight.

De La Hoya knocked down Charpentier three times in the final round, with referee Laurence Cole stopping the bout at 1:56 of the third round after the challenger went down sitting on the canvas from a final right hand.

``Everything worked perfect,'' De La Hoya said. ``I took my time. I was a real professional out there.''

It was the fourth title defense for De La Hoya, who drew one of the biggest crowds to see a boxing match since Muhammad Ali beat Leon Spinks before 63,350 in the Superdome in New Orleans 20 years ago.

And it didn't figure to last long after De La Hoya came out from the opening bell throwing a stinging left jab that pushed back Charpentier's head. De La Hoya knocked Charpentier down 53 seconds into the third round with a left hook, put him down again 37 seconds later with a left uppercut and then finished him with the right hand.

``I thought I was better than ever,'' De La Hoya said. ``I had no problems out there. After I hurt him I knew the knockdown was coming.''

The fans who screamed De La Hoya's name as he entered the ring dressed in a Mexican cowboy outfit and sombrero had barely settled into their seats and the fight was over. But they still screamed for him as he thanked them from the ring.

``I thank the city of El Paso for giving me the strength and opportunity to fight here before all these beautiful fans,'' De La Hoya told the crowd.

MORE