Former boxing world champion Antonio Cermeno killed in Venezuela

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Former boxing world champion Antonio Cermeno killed in Venezuela
FILE - In this Dec. 21, 1996 file photo, Venezuela's Antonio Cermeno, left, fights Japan's Yuichi Kasai in a WBA Junior Featherweight Championship bout in Las Vegas. Cermeno, a WBA super bantamweight and featherweight champion in the 1990's, was kidnapped on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela and found shot to death the next day, police said. (AP Photo/Jim Laurie, File)
Eddie Saenz of Managua, Nicaragua, right, delivers a punch to Antonio Cermeno of Caracas, Venezuela, during their WBA Junior Featherweight Championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nev., Saturday, Nov. 9, 1996. Cermeno won the fight with a TKO in the fifth round. (AP Photo/ Mark J. Terrill)
Antonio Cermeno, of Venezuela, raises his arms after knocking down Shamir Reyes, of Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Fedelatin Super Featherweight title in San Juan, Puerto Rico Saturday, May 11, 2002. Felix "Tito" Trinidad is scheduled to fight against Hacine Cherifi in the main event. (AP Photo/Tomas van Houtryve)
9 Nov 1996: Antonio Cermeno (right) and Eddie Saenz trade blows during a bout at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cermeno won the fight with a TKO in the fifth round. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport
9 Nov 1996: Antonio Cermeno (left) celebrates after a bout against Eddie Saenz at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cermeno won the fight with a TKO in the fifth round. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Former world champion boxer Antonio Cermeno was kidnapped and killed in his native Venezuela, police said Tuesday.

Cermeno, a WBA super bantamweight and featherweight champion in the 1990s, was found shot to death Tuesday on a road in the central state of Miranda, local police chief Eliseo Guzman said.

Guzman said Cermeno and other relatives were kidnapped Monday night near the La Urbina neighborhood in east Caracas. The relatives escaped when the kidnappers stopped to refuel the car, but the former boxer remained captive, Guzman said.

Cermeno, 44, retired in 2006 with a 45-7 record.

His slaying comes on the heels of the killing of popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear in early January. Robbers killed the 29-year-old and her former husband, Thomas Henry Berry, 39, on an isolated stretch of highway while the couple was returning to the capital by car with their 5-year-old daughter.

The high-profile slayings highlight spiraling violent crime in Venezuela, which is one of the spurs to opposition protests that have rocked the South American country in recent weeks. The United Nations ranks Venezuela's homicide rate as the fifth highest in the world.

The non-government Venezuelan Observatory of Violence estimates the country's murder rate has quadrupled in 15 years of socialist rule.

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