Outside the ballroom in Atlantic City, N.J., the weather was cold. Inside, John Wesley Meekins ran into a storm by the name of Meldrick Taylor.

"He hits you so many times, you think it's raining on your face," trainer George Benton said after Taylor retained the International Boxing Federation Junior welterweight title by poounding Meekins into submission after seven rounds."I felt quicker today than I have in a long time," said the 22-year-old Taylor, 125-pound gold medalist at the Seoul Olympics. "My hands were moving like perpetual (motion)."

And the punches kept bouncing off Meekins' head and crashing against his ribs. Finally, after the seventh round, Dr. Frank Doggett visited the challenger's corner at Trump Plaza, and the fight was stopped.

The challenger's right eye was closed, there was a bad swelling under his left eye and a cut over the left eye. He had never been in the fight.

The unbeaten Taylor simply had too much hand speed and foot speed, battering Meekins with counters, left hooks, right-hand leads and shots to the body. It was obvious as Meekins walked wearily to his corner after the seventh round that his hopes of a title were long gone.

Taylor was cut over the left eye by an accidental head butt in the second round, but cut man Ace Marotta kept the gash from ever becoming a factor.

Taylor, who weighed 1393/4, one-quarter pound under the class limit, stepped up the pressure in the fourth round and shook Meekins, 138, several times before Doggett told referee Steve Smoger that the challenger was through for the night.

Taylor's first title defense will send him into a mandatory defense against Jong-jung Pacquining of the Phillipines on the Evander Holyfield-Michael Dokes card March 11 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.


In Vasto, Italy, Champion Juan Martin Coggi of Argentina knocked down American challenger Harold Brazier in the 10th round Saturday night and went on to win a unanimous 12-round decision to retain his World Boxing Association junior welterweight title.

The bout was even after nine rounds. The aggressive Coggi had vainly tried to deliver a knockout punch, while Brazier relied on his deft defense and a few extremely precise rights.

But in the 10th, a flashing left hook by Coggi caught Brazier on the jaw and sent the 33-year-old challenger from South Bend, Ind., to the canvas for a count of eight.