Rockville's Phil Gilberti felled Jerry Rash like a freshly cut tree a minute into their bout last night at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Rockville. Then he did it again at 2:13 of Round 1, scoring a boisterous technical knockout and earning the vacant Maryland cruiserweight title.

"Now I'm loose," said Gilberti (12-5, 12 knockouts). "Jerry will be back. Just like I've had a bad day, and you've had a bad day, he had one."

Rash (7-5-1), who knocked out Gilberti last year, declined to comment.

Heading the undercard was a battle between veteran junior welterweights Kato Wilson and state title holder Eddie Van Kirk, won unanimously by Van Kirk (22-6).

In his previous appearance in Rockville in August, Wilson (12-12-2) fought to a draw with Ozzie O'Neal, who went on to become fodder for welterweight champion Simon Brown last week in Atlantic City.

Van Kirk dominated early but the resilient Wilson never folded. Wilson even knocked his opponent to the canvas with a stunning left toward the end of the round. Van Kirk controlled Rounds 2 through 4, nearly dispatching Wilson with relentless body shots.

Rising New Jersey lightweight Juan Negron (8-0) scored a a fourth-round technical knockout of New York's Cesar Castro (6-8-1).

Castro, floored at the end of the first round by a vicious left hook, engaged in a spirited battle with Negron, until 42 seconds into Round 4, when Negron connected with a sharp right-left combination. Castro attempted to stand, but staggered backwards into the corner, prompting referee Frank Kelly to stop the bout.

Hyattsville lightweight Kelvin Daly (7-1) needed only two strong flurries to subdue Washington's Tony Pressley. Surviving a head butt that opened a cut over his left eye, Daly attacked Pressley (2-5) early in the third round, leaving him pressed in the corner until referee Carl Milligan stopped the fight at 47 seconds.

By far the fiercest punch of the night, though, was thrown by light heavyweight Jason Waller (6-1-1) of Stafford, Va. After dominating burly John Garwood (2-2) through the first round, he unfurled a roundhouse right that literally lifted Garwood off his feet, knocking him out at 2:17.