Pavlik defends title, stopping Espino
Associated Press
2009-12-20 12:43 PM
Kelly Pavlik stopped American compatriot Miguel Espino in the fifth round Saturday to defend his WBC and WBO middleweight titles, ending a difficult year on a high note.

After a 10-month layoff because of an infection on his left hand, Pavlik dropped Espino to a knee in the fourth round with staggering rights. Pavlik knocked Espino down again in the fifth, and referee Steve Smoger stepped in at 1:44 into the round.

It was Pavlik's third successful defense of the two belts, which he won against Jermain Taylor in 2007. Pavlik hadn't fought since a defense against Marco Antonio Rubio in February.

Espino was rated the No. 3 contender by the WBC, though few gave the Californian much of a chance in his first tilt at a major title.

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