Nelson beats Cantatore

Johnny Nelson of Britain retained the WBO cruiserweight title by beating Italian challenger Vincenzo Cantatore on a split decision on Saturday.

It was the 14th successful title defense for the 38-year-old Nelson, who improved to 45 wins, two draws and 12 losses. It was the fourth career loss for Cantatore, 30-1-4.

Nelson was given an eight count by referee Roberto Ramirez in the ninth round when he was apparently knock down, but television replays showed he fell from a combination of a slip and a push.

Employing a left jab and mainly staying out of reach, Nelson often danced around, and was booed by a partisan crowd of about 5,000 at Rome's Sport Palace.

Nelson was scored 116-111 and 115-112 by two judges, and Cantatore received 115-112 from the other judge, AP reports.

A. A.

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