Boone Pultz of Washington defended his U.S. Boxing Association cruiserweight title last night before 1,200 at Capital Centre, knocking out Carlos Hernandez at 2:24 of the first round.

Pultz, 14-0 with 10 knockouts, started his attack with a left hook and right follow that knocked Hernandez, of North Bergen, N.J., against the ropes. He then hit Hernandez (17-3-1) with another combination -- a right punch doing the damage -- and finished him off with a soft left that put him on the canvas.

"It all happened so fast," said Pultz. "I guess I got through a lucky right hand. I didn't think it was that hard."

Hernandez said: "The first punches got me dizzy. I tried to shake it off, but I couldn't. . . .

"It was the first time in my life I've been knocked down. My mind was telling me to do one thing, and my body was doing another."

Welterweight Maurice Blocker of Washington kept his professional record perfect, scoring a technical knockout in the eighth round against determined Juan Alonso Villa of Guadalajara, Mexico.

At 2:55 of the eighth round, Villa could take no more, having fallen seconds earlier from a left hook to his stomach. Blocker improved his record to 23-0 with 12 knockouts.

Two of the scheduled bouts were canceled, including a 10-rounder that was one of the main events.

Welterweight Marlon Starling (37-4, 22 knockouts) was checked by a Maryland State Athletic Commission physician yesterday afternoon and was told he couldn't fight because of an injured left shoulder.

The four-round junior lightweight bout between Antonio deBarros and Kevin Rivers was canceled when Rivers didn't show for the weigh-in.

Blocker started the second round with a hard left hook that drove Villa's head backward. Blocker then followed him to the ropes, connecting with a hard right that knocked his opponent back. Villa kept swinging, despite a bleeding ear and a bruise under his right eye caused by Blocker's combinations.

How Villa was able to stand after the third round is a mystery. He took a powerful right to his head and a vicious combination near the end of the round.

Blocker opened a cut over Villa's left eye in the sixth round with clean combinations. In the seventh round, the referee stopped action to have Villa's trainer look at his cut.

In earlier bouts, Tyrone McKelvey of Washington won a split decision over featherweight opponent Tyrone Hurtt of Baltimore, and Rodney Byrd of Washington knocked out Joe Payne of Baltimore at 1:09 of the fourth round.

Seconds had passed in the first round when McKelvey landed a right that sent Hurtt to the canvas. Hurtt got up quickly. McKelvey gave him another right that shook Hurtt, and kept following with rights that Hurtt couldn't stop.

Byrd was impressive in the first round. He threw vicious left hooks for most of the round, including one that had Payne wobbling. The fight was stopped in the third round after Byrd connected with a left hook at 1:09 and Payne fell against the ropes, his mouthpiece hanging.