TEMECULA, Calif. - Before he fought Ricardo Mayorga in the main event of Saturday's card at the Pechanga Casino and Resort, Vernon Forrest already was a winner.
Well, at least a bunch of his Atlanta buddies were.
Middleweight Robert Allen (34-4, 25 knockouts) forced Kevin Hall's (18-7-1) corner to throw in the towel in the first round, heavyweight Cedric Boswell (21-0, 15 KO) stopped Jim Strohl (24-3) in the fifth and welterweight Xavier Tolliver (11-2, 8 KO) forced the referee to halt the bout in the first after pummeling Jerry Sarabay (4-3).
After his easy win, Allen - one of the three boxers who trains with Forrest in Atlanta - gave praise to the Augusta native.
"Vernon looks out for me and puts me on his shows," said Allen, who lost to undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins in 1999 and is looking for a rematch. "My boy takes care of business. He's a champion inside and outside the ring."
In other undercard action, Derek Bryant (16-0, 13 KO) notched a second-round technical knockout against Damon Reed (34-7), and Yuri Foreman (8-0, 4 KO) knocked out William Evans (4-3) in the first.
LAS VEGAS WEST: Although the Pechanga Casino has held a number of fight cards - its biggest have appeared on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights - fight promoter Dan Goosen envisions bigger things for the Grand Ballroom.
"Pechanga has put themselves on the map, and they've put Temecula on the map," said Goosen, who promotes Mayorga. "It's Las Vegas (style) right here in sunny California."
AWARD WINNER: Forrest will receive the Thurman Munson Award in New York on Feb. 4.
The award, named for the former New Yankees catcher who died in a plane crash in 1979, is in recognition of Forrest's work with Destiny's Child - a group that works with developmentally-challenged children.
IN THE CROWD: Among the well-known names found in the Pechanga were cruiserweight James Toney, who originally was supposed to fight Vassiliy Jirov in the undercard, and Chris Byrd - who decisioned Evander Holyfield in December to win the IBF heavyweight championship.
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