Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2003

Lujan wins WBO intercontinental welterweight title

MARIEHAMN, Aland Island Argentina's Sebastian Lujan stopped defending champion Paolo Roberto of Sweden with a right hook at 1:22 of the second round to win the WBO intercontinental welterweight title Saturday night.

Lujan, 23, the South American champion, improved to 13-1-1. Roberto, 34, captured the vacant title last November when he outlasted another Argentine, Raul Eduardo Bejarano, on points in a 12-round bout at Mariehamn. Both bouts were held in the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea halfway between Sweden and Finland because pro boxing has been banned in Sweden since 1969.

Mutombo probably will be waived by the Nets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The New Jersey Nets have reached a tentative agreement to buy out the contract of eight-time All Star center Dikembe Mutombo, a deal that is believed to be worth approximately $30 million.

Nets president Rod Thorn and David Falk, Mutombo's agent, brokered the deal on Saturday. It probably will be finalized on Monday, Thorn said.

The move saves the Nets about $7 million in salary owed to Mutombo through the end of next season, and it gives the four-time NBA defensive player of the year a chance to find a team where he can contribute.

It was unlikely Mutombo would play much with the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions.

''This is basically a salary-cap decision on our part,'' Thorn said Saturday evening. ''We have depth at that position. Deke looks terrific. I don't have anything but good things to say about him.''

Thorn tried to trade Mutombo this summer, but there were few takers with $37 million still left on his contract.

Mutombo's one season in New Jersey was a major disappointment for both him and the team. He didn't fit in early with the team's uptempo style and he never found a role after tearing a ligament in his right wrist in November and being sidelined for 56 games.

Mutombo, who averaged 5.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 24 regular-season games last season, said the move was purely monetary.

''It's part of life. It happens,'' Mutombo said. ''I gained a lot of friendships but I never thought about getting hurt before. It's too bad the injury created so much doubt in people's minds.''

The 37-year-old Mutombo thinks he can play another four or five years.

''I know a lot of teams are interested in me,'' he said. ''I'll find a home some way.''

Nets coach Byron Scott, who was annoyed when Mutombo complained about his lack of playing time in the playoffs, said the 7-foot-2 center has looked good in practice this week.

''All things considered, the way he was playing the first two days, he was going to have a big role on our team,'' Scott said.

That seems questionable with the Nets' roster. Jason Collins and Aaron Williams handled most of the work at center after Mutombo was hurt ,and New Jersey added Alonzo Mourning as a free agent in the offseason.

''I didn't see if it was going to make life easier just because Deke is gone,'' Scott said. ''I didn't think it was going to be a problem.''

The Nets shipped Keith Van Horn and center Todd MacCulloch to Philadelphia after being swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 NBA Finals.

Mutombo was seen as the final piece of the puzzle for the Nets, who were dominated by Shaquille O'Neal in their first trip to the championship round.

Mutombo had played well against O'Neal in the finals the previous year.

Prior to last season, Mutombo had missed 28 games in his first 11 seasons.

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