- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

PENSACOLA, FLA. (AP) - Roy Jones Jr. knocked out lightly regarded Omar Sheika in front of a roaring hometown crowd Saturday night to capture the North American Boxing Association’s vacant light heavyweight championship.

The referee stopped the fight at 1:45 of the fifth round after Jones had blooded Sheika’s face with a flurry of punches. Sheika, who kept Jones backed up in the ropes for much of the fight, never went down and wanted to continue.

“I’m glad the referee did stop the fight before I messed him up even more,” Jones said.

It was the first title victory of any kind in nearly two years for the 40-year-old Jones, once acclaimed as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer.

The win was Jones’ 53rd, including 39 knockouts, against five losses. The 32-year-old Sheika of Patterson, N.J., fell to 27-9 with 18 knockouts.

The Jones-Sheika fight was the main event of a combination card of boxing and mixed martial arts fights promoted by Jones.

Jones fought for the first time in 10 years in Pensacola, where his professional career began two decades ago.

It was another comeback fight for the eight-time world champion in four weight classes. In his last outing four months ago, he lost a lopsided unanimous decision to then-super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, who retired with a perfect 46-0 record.

Before the loss to Calzaghe, Jones had put together three straight wins. They included unanimous decisions over Felix Trinidad last year and Anthony Hanshaw in 2007 to claim the vacant IBC light heavyweight title.

That string followed three straight defeats. The last, in 2005, was an unanimous 12-round decision to Antonio Tarver, who retained his IBO light heavyweight title.

In the only other championship bout, B.J. Flores of Las Vegas, Nev., won an unanimous decision over Jose Luis Herrera of Miami to win the NABO junior heavyweight title. Flores is undefeated in 23 fights with 14 knockouts. Herrera dropped to 16-6 with 16 knockouts.

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