Calling former top-ranked boxing contender Tony Ayala Jr. a threat to women, a Superior Court judge in Paterson, N.J., yesterday ordered him to serve at least 15 years in prison without parole for his conviction of sexually assaulting a woman who lived in his West Paterson apartment complex.

"The circumstances of this crime are certainly one of extreme violence and depravity," said Judge Amos C. Saunders after imposing a 35-year sentence with a 15-year minimum.

Ayala, 20, a native of San Antonio, who was 22-0 with 19 knockouts, also was fined $5,125. He was found guilty on April 13 of aggravated sexual assault and five other charges in the New Year's Day rape.

Ayala wiped tears from his eyes several times during the sentencing, which took place before a crowded courtroom that included his common-law wife, Lisa Paez Ayala, and his 30-year-old victim.

"That's a helluva lot of time," William DeMarco, Ayala's defense attorney said of the sentence imposed, adding he would appeal the case.

Ayala faces up to an additional 10 years in jail in Texas because his conviction violates conditions of his parole in San Antonio, where he pleaded guilty to assault charges.