INGLEWOOD, CALIF., FEB. 11 -- Thomas Hearns tuned up for his World Boxing Association light heavyweight championship bout against Virgil Hill in May by knocking out Kemper Morton at 2:02 of the second round tonight.

Hearns, who weighed 173 pounds, used a left uppercut to floor his unheralded opponent, who came into the fight having lost two of his last four outings. Referee Pat Russell counted Morton out to end the bout, scheduled for 10 rounds.

Hill was at ringside and Hearns said afterwards, "I wanted to give Virgil Hill something to see."

Hearns, of Detroit, will challenge the unbeaten Hill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

"The 'Hit Man' {Hearns's nickname} is a light heavyweight and I can do the job," Hearns said. "I knew if I could get my left hand to work I could put him on his seat."

Hearns, 32, improved his record to 48-3-1 with 39 knockouts. He is the World Boxing Organization super middleweight champion and was the first boxer ever to win championships in five different weight classes.

Hearns jolted Morton with a left hand at 55 seconds of the first round, the first real punch he threw. At two minutes of the opening round, Hearns hurt Morton with a left-right combination.

Hearns landed a left at 1:20 of the second round which hurt Morton and threw several punches which landed before finishing off his opponent with the left uppercut.

He was fighting for the first time since last April 28 when he scored a 12-round decision over Michael Olajide in Atlantic City to retain his WBO super middleweight crown.

Ranked 12th by the U.S. Boxing Association, Morton, 30, is from Westerville, Ohio. His record is 17-7-2 with 12 knockouts.