Andrew "El Chango" Cancio, 29, won a unanimous 10-round decision over Dardan Zenunaj, 31, in a grueling, punch-filled bout Friday night.
The junior lightweight fight was the featured attraction of a Golden Boy on ESPN card at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Cancio, of Blythe, California, wobbled Zenunaj, of Sherman Oaks, California, with a left hook soon after the opening bell and proceeded to dish out a beating for the remainder of the round.
It was all Cancio the first four rounds. He continued to connect with sharp punches to the head with both hands as Zenunaj pressed forward but was unable to land many significant blows.
It looked as if it might be an easy win for Cancio, but Zenunaj was extremely durable and applied relentless pressure that eventually sapped Cancio of much of his original energy and punching power.
Cancio (19-4-2, 14 KOs) rallied in the ninth to have his best round since the seventh but was too tired to do anything but protect himself in the 10th.
Zenunjaj (14-5, 11 KOs) was the stronger of the two at the final bell, but he could not overcome Cancio's big early lead. Even so, he shared in the cheers of the enthusiastic crowd.
According to CompuBox, Cancio landed 356 punches, while Zenunaj connected with 278.
The scores in Cancio's favor were 96-94 (the same as ESPN), 99-91 and 99-91.
In the co-feature, Greg "The Villain" Vendetti (20-2-1, 12 KOs) scored a minor upset by winning a unanimous 10-round decision over Yoshihiro "The Maestrito" Kamegai (27-5-1, 24 KOs) in a junior middleweight bout. The scores in Vendetti's favor were 97-93, 98-92 and 98-92.
Vendetti, 28, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, looked physically stronger from the start. He landed solid counterpunches as Kamegai attacked and generally got the better of the fighting in most rounds.
Kamegai, 35, of Sapporo, Japan, seemed to have been worn down by his numerous tough fights against top-notch competition and didn't have the normal zip on his punches. He landed plenty of them, but they didn't faze Vendetti, who won the biggest fight of his career.