WBO junior-welterweight champion Joan Guzman remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over Humberto Soto on Saturday night.
Guzman (28-0), from the Dominican Republic, used his slick style and strong defense to gain a 12-round, unanimous decision over Soto (43-6-2) of Mexico, at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa.
Judges Lynne Carter and Jean Williams both favored Guzman at 117-111, while Don Trella had it 118-110. The Associated Press scored it a 114-114 draw.
"I figured it would be a rough fight and it was," Guzman said through a translator. "He's a very strong fighter, but once we got into the ring, I felt like I took him out of his game plan."
For much of the bout, it was a thrilling, action-packed affair which brought out the best in both fighters. Soto, who entered the ring with 15 knockouts among his 20 straight victories, put on the pressure early and kept it there.
He followed the same pattern each round, doggedly pressing forward, eating punches when necessary to deliver his own shots. From the third round on, Guzman's cut man had to treat welts that were forming under both of his eyes.
If it bothered Guzman, however, he didn't show it. Guzman, making his second title defense, treated his vocal fan base with a masterful performance which showcased his outstanding defense, hand speed and movement.
Soto, ever the aggressor, repeatedly forced Guzman into the ropes, but was unable to land the clean punch that would have turned the fight in his favor. Time after time, Guzman would dip, dodge, twist or turn, then pepper Soto with a blinding combination.
Both fighters also showed why the other 130-pounders are reluctant to face them. Despite the frantic pace, neither slowed down. Soto would land a one-two that would send Guzman backward. Guzman would patiently wait for Soto to follow up, then catch him coming in with a crisp combination or powerful hook.
Guzman appeared to control the pace for the first half of the fight, much to the delight of the fans who chanted "Gooozman, Gooozman," but he strangely decided to focus more on showboating than fighting for the last three rounds.
"I know I did enough to win," Soto said through a translator. "You win fights by throwing punches and not by running. I think the judges were a little swayed by all the yelling for him."
In the co-feature, unbeaten bantamweight Abner Mares (15-0) of Los Angeles, took a 12-round, unanimous decision over Damian Marchiano (14-3-1) of Argentina, in a grueling, bloody, action-packed fight. Mares bled from his nose and mouth for most of the bout, but never stopped his attack. Marchiano took his share of shots, but also gamely answered in most of the rounds.
"I think I grew up," Mares said. "I grew in boxing against a tough opponent."
Judges Robert Grasso and George Hill both favored Mares by a 118-109 margin while Tony Perez scored it 117-109. The Associated Press favored Mares 116-111.