Luis Alberto Lopez retained the IBF featherweight title, defeating Joet Gonzalez by unanimous decision at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
But their battle was closer than the judges’ scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 suggest.
Lopez has enjoyed exceptional form, beating Josh Warrington in Leeds and Michael Conlan in Belfast to win and retain his world title.
He took control of his fight with Gonzalez from the start, but the latter showed himself strong later.
Gonzalez targeted the body in the first round, but as the fight progressed, Lopez set up his shots from distance.
The champion can look wild when he lunges forward with punches, but he worked with counter shots to keep Gonzalez from gaining momentum.
The challenger, however, was desperate to win a world title on his third attempt and increased the pressure in the latter stages of the fight.
That wasn’t enough to derail Lopez.
“It was a very close fight. We know Joet Gonzalez came forward. He didn’t back down. I know it was a tough fight, but I know I won,” Lopez said per the following.
Gonzalez fought Shakur Stevenson and Emanuel Navarrete in his previous world title fights and was once again denied a championship victory.
“I thought the scores should have been a little closer. Overall, I’m very disappointed with my performance,” Gonzalez said.
“I felt like I could have done a lot better. This was by far the worst performance of my title fights, even though I prepared as much as possible. I’m really disappointed with my performance.
“I felt like in the other world title fights I had done better. I felt like I was less hit. I felt like I landed some good shots, But I feel like I could have done a lot better.”
Lopez, however, said: “We knew that Joet Gonzalez is a very dangerous fighter. He never stops attacking. He can take everything you throw at him. We knew that’s what he came to do and that he came with a lot of hunger to take the title away from me, but I am also very hungry to remain champion.
“I hurt him. I saw that I hurt him. But, like I said, he’s a warrior who can take anything thrown at him, even the bucket. He’s still stand and pay my respects to him.”
Fast-rising Puerto Rican super welterweight prospect Alex Zayas showed his speed and power by falling Roberto Valenzuela twice in the first round before finally defeating him in the fifth.
“We knew it was a matter of time,” Zayas said. “I came here to achieve a goal. I came here to let everyone know, at 154 pounds, that I’m coming for everything.
“They said he was a powerful puncher, and I dominated tonight. I’m now a contender at 154 pounds,” he continued.
“I will be ready for a world title. All my respect to Roberto. He was a warrior like I knew he would be.”
Emiliano Fernando Vargasthe son of former two-time world champion Fernando Vargas, scored a spectacular third-round stoppage victory over Alexander Guardado.
A blocked left hook set Vargas up for an attack that forced the finish.
Vargas said: “We’re just going to work there. It’s a beautiful thing to be here with all my beautiful Mexican fans. I love what I do. I get up early in the morning and it’s not work. I can’t wait to get back.