Luevano digs past Dib, looks toward fight with Juarez

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Steven Luevano is steady and methodical. Billy Dib is unorthodox, flashy and likes to bend the rules.

Steady and methodical won out as Luevano easily retained his featherweight title with a unanimous decision against Australia's Dib on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.

Luevano's fourth defense of his 126-pound belt was the semifinal on the card headlined by the Kelly Pavlik-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight fight at Boardwalk Hall.

Luevano (36-1-1, 15 KOs) stayed calm in the face of Dib's jumpy, dirty style as he racked up points with an accurate straight right hand.

Dib, 23, who fought his previous fight at junior lightweight and won a controversial decision against South Africa's Zolani Marali in July, fought in his typical, unsightly style, moving constantly, jumping in and out and fighting on the edge of the rules. Referee Steve Smoger warned the Shane Mosley protégé several times for various infractions, including low blows, hitting on the break and pushing Luevano through the ropes.

But Luevano, 27, never let it rattle him and always had an answer. He hurt Dib (21-1, 11 KOs) in the eighth round with a right hand, knocking him through the ropes with a flurry. It could have been called a knockdown, but Smoger didn't rule one.

It didn't matter, because Luevano, coming off a draw against Mario Santiago in June, cruised to the decision. All three judges had it for Luevano, 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113. ESPN.com also favored Luevano, 118-110.

"The game plan was to wait, let him come in and he did. And then I hit him with everything," said Luevano, who fought despite suffering flu-like symptoms all week. "I wasn't going to chase after him."

With the win safely tucked away, Luevano could next face junior lightweight contender Rocky Juarez at a catch weight between 126 and 130 pounds early next year. The Luevano camp is interested in the fight, as is Juarez manager Shelly Finkel.

Rubio earns title bout

Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KOs) dominated Enrique Ornelas (28-5, 18 KOs) down the stretch to pull out a split decision in a middleweight title eliminator that makes him one of middleweight champion Pavlik's mandatory challengers.

Ornelas, the brother of super middleweight contender Librado Andrade, had early success, but Rubio came on strong, swelling up Ornelas' right eye and coming alive over the final three rounds as he outlanded Ornelas 86-50, according to CompuBox statistics.

Rubio battered Ornelas in the 11th round and was on the verge of a stoppage when the bell ended the round. He continued to assault Ornelas in the 12th round and was teeing off on him with a series of left hands when the fight ended.

"The first few rounds were difficult and I couldn't get my rhythm going," Rubio said. "I got myself back together and I felt I dominated the second half of the fight, but it was a difficult fight."

Two judges gave it to Rubio 115-113, while the third judge had it 115-113 for Ornelas. ESPN.com also had it 115-113 for Rubio, who won his ninth consecutive fight.

• New York super middleweight prospect Daniel Jacobs (11-0, 10 KOs) had his bout added to the pay-per-view telecast last week when bantamweight contender Abner Mares had to withdraw from his televised bout because of an eye injury. Jacobs took full advantage of the exposure.

Jacobs, 21, turned in an explosive performance as he blew away Tyrone Watson (7-2, 3 KOs) at 2:29 of the first round for his eighth first-round knockout. Jacobs knocked Watson down with a right hand and then knocked him down for the count with a left to the body.

After such an easy victory, Jacobs could return as soon as Nov. 8 on the Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones undercard at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Watson, 28, was selected to face Jacobs in part because of his durability. In his previous fight on Oct 3, he suffered his first loss but went the eight-round distance with prospect Fernando Guerrero on Showtime's "ShoBox" series.

• Junior middleweight Yuri Foreman (26-0, 8 KOs) thoroughly dominated Vinroy Barrett (22-7, 11 KOs) to win a shutout decision. All three judges had it 100-90 for Foreman, 28, who methodically outboxed the Season 2 participant on "The Contender." Barrett, 33, has lost four of his past five bouts.

• Philadelphia junior welterweight prospect Danny Garcia (8-0, 7 KOs) took care of Deon Nash (5-6, 1 KO) in easy fashion, dropping him twice in the third round and stopping him at 2:14. Although Nash, 30, lost his fifth fight in a row, Garcia, a 2007 U.S. Olympic trials finalist, became the first to stop him.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.