Boxers fight to draw in eliminator

LAS VEGAS -- Junior middleweights Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan each went to the ring on Saturday looking for a signature win to help negotiate a future date with WBC titlist Saul Alvarez. Neither got his wish.

The WBC eliminator bout inside the Wynn Hotel and Casino ended in a technical draw when an accidental head butt caused a deep cut under Martirosyan's left eye 26 seconds into the ninth round.

Judges scored the bout 86-85 for Martirosyan, 87-84 for Lara and 86-86. ESPN.com scored it 86-86.

By rule, judges were required to score the final 26-second round but surprisingly, it didn't affect the outcome. The only judge who had it scored even through eight rounds, Dave Moretti, scored the final round 10-10.

Both fighters complained afterwards, claiming he had done enough to win the fight. They did agree, however, no one was to blame for the head butt.

"I officially won this bout," Lara said in the ring.

Martirosyan struggled to match the speed of Lara, but the pressure he applied was effective early. A mouse formed under Lara's left eye in the fourth from Martirosyan's right hands.

Lara started to respond in the seventh, letting his hands go more and making Martirosyan pay for his aggressiveness with counter punches. He boxed beautifully in the eighth, utilizing his footwork and landing several straight lefts.

"It was a very close fight," said Martirosyan's trainer, Freddie Roach. "Vanes won the early rounds when Lara was running so much. I told him, 'The fight's getting closer, back him up and throw more combinations.' "

Lara landed 74-of-257 punches to Martirosyan's 33 of 243, according to Compubox. Martirosyan outlanded Lara in power punches 40 to 27.

Martirosyan (32-0-1, 20 KO) required immediate medical attention after the fight. Before he left, he expressed interest in a rematch with Lara (17-1-2, 11 KO).

"As soon as the stitches come out, I want a rematch," Martirosyan said.

The fight started to heat up in the third round, when Martirosyan threw a late punch on the break to Lara's body. In the following round, Lara landed a low blow that was ruled accidental by referee Jay Nady, but temporarily stopped the action.

"He ran all night, it was tough to catch him," Martirosyan said. "He's kind of a dirty fighter."

Lara responded that he's never had a point deducted in his entire boxing career.