Azumah Nelson sucessfully defended his World Boxing Council super-featherweight crown Saturday in Atlantic, City, N.J., by knocking out Lupe Suarez 27 seconds into the ninth round.

Nelson, 28-1 with 20 knockouts, is seeking a battle against WBC lightweight title-holder Julio Cesar Chavez.

Suarez, with puffing below both eyes, was caught with an apparent late left after the eighth round. He went down after getting tagged with a right-left early in the ninth, but got up at the count of five. Referee Tony Perez asked the challenger if he wanted to continue, then waved off the fight seconds later.

"He said he felt bad and his eyes were back," Perez said later.

Angelo Dundee, Suarez's trainer, said his boxer lost a chance at dethroning Nelson when the punch landed at the conclusion of the eighth round.

"I don't think he got over the shot," said Dundee of Suarez, 25-2. "I told him, `If he does that again, kick him."'

Nelson banged to the body in the first few rounds of the scheduled 12-rounder, but Suarez came on in the fifth and sixth when Nelson did not throw many punches.

The champion finally put together flurries in the eighth when he nailed Suarez with a two-fisted attack that caused serious swelling around both of the challenger's eyes.

--- At Luton, England, Barry McGuigan, former world featherweight champion, continued his comeback Saturday by stopping Thomas da Cruz in the fourth round.

McGuigan, 31-2 from Ireland, took another step toward a shot at a junior-lightweight title fight with a thorough battering of the Brazilian.McGuigan scored repeatedly with right crosses over da Cruz' left lead.

By the third round, McGuigan was hitting da Cruz at will with rights to the head and lefts to the body. The Brazilian refused to go down and somehow survived until the bell.