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Francesco Damiani of Italy knocked out South African Johnny Du Plooy at 1:48 of the third round Saturday to win the vacant heavyweight title of the newly established World Boxing Organization.

Damiani, 30, became only the second Italian boxer ever to capture a world heavyweight title. Primo Carnera held the undisputed world championship in 1933 and 1934.Du Plooy, 24, led on points after the two first rounds, but Damiani then knocked out the South African with two flashing left hooks to the jaw to remain unbeaten in 25 bouts as a professional. The 1984 Olympic silver medalist has 21 knockouts.

Du Plooy is now 22-3-1.

Du Plooy controlled the first two rounds, landing precise right hooks which quickly bruised one eye of the Italian and quited the partisan crowd . But Damiani sent the fans into a frenzy when he floored Du Plooy for the count.

The Italian said a title fight with heavyweight champ Mike Tyson "is what I want above all, before giving up boxing."