LAS VEGAS -- Richar Abril defended his WBA lightweight title with a unanimous decision against Sharif Bogere on Saturday.
Bogere turned the bout into a brawl early, pressing forward to get inside and frustrate the taller Abril.
Abril was forced to wrap up Bogere in defense and both fighters tumbled to canvass more than once during the fight. Abril was docked one point in the eighth round for holding and Bogere was penalized one point in the 12th for leading with his head.
"I don't like fighting dirty fighters and I lost my concentration," Abril said. "I thought I won the fight even though it wasn't clean."
An accidental head-butt opened up a large gash over the right eye of Abril in the sixth round which seemed to energize both boxers and sway the momentum toward the champion.
"I had confidence in my corner, " Abril said. "The blood didn't disrupt me, I am trained for situations like this."
Abril's activity increased and he was able to create the distance needed to use his length. Abril weathered the storm and found his range in the later rounds, landing effective combinations to keep the charging Bogere at bay.
The judges scored the bout 115-111, 116-110 and 116-110. Abril improved to 18-3-1 (8 KO's) while Bogere suffered his first loss and fell to 23-1 (15 KO's)
In the co-main event, featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. remained undefeated with an impressive 10-round unanimous decision over Vyacheslav Gusev.
Russell wobbled Gusev late in the first round and sent him to one knee in the third with a big right hook.
The southpaw Russell appeared to have injured his left hand during the seventh round and used it sparingly for the rest of the fight, but it had no bearing on the outcome.
"I'm not sure if I broke it," Russell said. "I know I was in a lot of pain. Great fighters are willing to make necessary adjustments in the ring."
Russell maintained his dominance throughout the fight with a steady jab and lightning quick combinations to defeat the Russian Gusev and improve his record 22-0 (13 KO's).