Thomas Hearns tuned up for his World Boxing Association light heavyweight championship bout against Virgil Hill in May by knocking out Kemper Morton at 2:02 of the second round Monday night.
Hearns, who weighed 173 pounds, used a left uppercut to floor his unheralded opponent, who came into the fight having lost two of his last four outings. Referee Pat Russell counted Morton out to end the bout, scheduled for 10 rounds.Hill was at ringside and Hearns said afterward, "I wanted to give Virgil Hill something to see."
Hearns, of Detroit, will challenge the unbeaten Hill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev.
"The `Hit Man' is a light heavyweight and I can do the job," Hearns said. "I knew if I could get my left hand to work I could put him on his seat."
Hearns, 32, improved his record to 48-3-1 with 39 knockouts. He is currently the World Boxing Organization super middleweight champion and was the first boxer ever to win championships in five different weight classes.
Hearns jolted Morton with a left hand at 55 seconds of the first round, the first real punch he threw. At two minutes of the opening round, Hearns hurt Morton with a left-right combination.
Morton came out more aggressive in the second round and landed a few punches, but none seemed to hurt Hearns.
Hearns landed a left at 1:20 of the second round which hurt Morton and threw several punches which landed before finishing off his opponent with the left uppercut.
Hearns was fighting for the first time since last April 28 when he scored a 12-round decision over Michael Olajide in Atlantic City, N.J., to retain his WBO super middleweight crown.
That was the first fight for Hearns since June 13, 1989, when he fought to a controversial 12-round draw with Sugar Ray Leonard in a bout many thought Hearns won. Leonard's career came to an end Saturday night when he was dominated over 12 rounds by World Boxing Council super middleweight champion Terry Norris.
Morton, 30, is ranked as the 12th-leading light heavyweight challenger by the United States Boxing Association. Morton, from Westerville, Ohio, fell to 17-7-2 with 12 knockouts.
Morton, who was stopped for the fifth time in his career, weighed 1721/4 pounds.
Morton was fighting for the first time in seven months. He was stopped in the ninth round by USBA light heavyweight champion Booker Word in Auburn Hills, Mich., last July 10.
Hearns spent 10 days in late October and early November visiting U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.
He donated his $50,000 purse to the USO, marking what he previously called the beginning of the Thomas Hearns USO Fund established to benefit U.S. posts world-wide.
Hearns also received $212,000 in expenses, according to a California Athletic Commission spokesman. Morton earned $10,000.
Hearns' three losses have come to Leonard in 1981, Marvin Hagler in 1985 and Iran Barkley in 1988.
In a companion 10-rounder at the Forum, unbeaten Genaro Hernandez of Los Angeles won by disqualification over Pedro Arroyo of Puerto Rico at 2:04 of the 10th round in a super featherweight bout.
Referee Burt Gilliam disqualified Arroyo for "holding on the break and illegal use of the head."
Hernandez dominated the fight but there were no knockdowns. Hernandez, 24, has a 23-0 record with 11 knockouts while Arroyo, 27, is 15-4 with 10 knockouts. Hernandez weighed 1313/4 pounds while Arroyo weighed 1293/4 pounds.