Oscar De La Hoya did his part Saturday night to set up a welterweight showdown with Felix Trinidad, stopping Oba Carr with a thunderous left hook in the 11th round to defend his WBC welterweight title for the ninth time.
De La Hoya appeared on his way to winning an unimpressive decision when he dodged a left hand and then landed a left hook that sent the challenger sprawling on the canvas.
Carr was up at the count of three, but was wobbly and referee Richard Steele moved in to stop the fight at 55 seconds of the 11th round.
De La Hoya had knocked down Carr in the first round, but did little over the next nine rounds to sell a Sept. 18 fight with Trinidad that will make him $15 million.
Trinidad must beat Hugo Pineda next week in his IBF welterweight title defense to secure the fight between the two undefeated champions.
It was the 31st win in as many fights for De La Hoya and the 19th time he has left the ring with a championship belt around his waist. Yet it was not the kind of performance that he anticipated until he landed the punch that ended the bout.
Though the scoring was lopsided partly because of two points taken from Carr for butting and low blows in the seventh round Carr was competitive most of the fight.
At the time the fight was stopped, De La Hoya led by seven points on one card, five on a second and three on a third. The Associated Press had De La Hoya ahead by seven points.
"Let's get it on," De La Hoya said of the fight with Trinidad. "It will be the fight of the century."
De La Hoya said he had a "personal problem" in the second round that caused him to back off Carr. He did not specify what the problem was, but promoter Bob Arum said he hurt one of his hands.
"After the second round I couldn't do the things I wanted to do," he said. "I had to use my legs more."
De La Hoya had gone into the fight promising to revert to the style that had gotten him 18 knockouts in his first 22 fights. Since then, he has gone the distance in four of his last eight fights.
It looked like it would be a short night for Carr when De La Hoya hurt him with a left jab with 1:40 left in the first round, then knocked him down with a left hook with 1:27 left.
Carr got up, however, and lasted the round.
"He can really take a punch," De La Hoya said. "He was rough, he was ready. I felt strong. I put all the pressure on."
Carr (48-3-1), whose only previous losses were to Ike Quartey and Trinidad, said he tried to press the fight but could not get his punches off quickly enough.
"He was very quick. I was in good shape but I got tired," he said.
Carr did not protest Steele stopping the fight, but said he could have gone on.
Ringside punching statistics showed De La Hoya connecting on 240 punches to 157 for Carr, though Carr threw 759 punches to 518 for De La Hoya
Carr, the fourth-ranked contender, was a 10-1 underdog in the fight in which both boxers weighed the class limit of 147 pounds.
De La Hoya earned $5 million for the fight, which drew a crowd that roared for the champion. Carr was paid $350,000.
In another title fight, Floyd Mayweather needed nine rounds to stop last-minute substitute Justin Juuko and retain his WBC super featherweight title.
Mayweather dominated the uneventful fight but never knocked down Juuko until the ninth round, when he landed two rights and seemed to push Juuko to the canvas.
Juuko, who found out only Wednesday that he would be fighting, struggled up at the count of nine, but referee Mitch Halpern counted him out at 1:20 of the round.
It was the third defense of the title for Mayweather, the 1996 Olympian who is 21-0 as a pro with 16 knockouts. But it was a performance that left many in the crowd booing.
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