NEW YORK -- For the second consecutive fight, Puerto Rico's Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon saw his bout end inside the distance. But it wasn't because the light-hitting Calderon scored a knockout.
Instead, his junior flyweight defense against the Philippines' Rodel Mayol ended because an accidental head butt opened a severe gash on Calderon's forehead.
The bout was stopped at 1:50 of the sixth round and sent to the scorecards for a technical decision, which turned out to be a split draw, allowing Calderon to retain his title on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, which was jammed with a heavily pro-Puerto Rican crowd there for Calderon and Miguel Cotto's welterweight title defense against Joshua Clottey on the eve of the annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Judge Tony Paolillo had Calderon ahead 58-56, Tom Schreck had it 58-56 for Mayol and Steve Weisfeld had it 57-57. ESPN.com had Calderon ahead 58-56.
"I was coming in and he would go down low and that's when I got hit in the head," Calderon said. "I got cut and I got head butted again. The blood started to come and the referee [Benji Esteves] told me he might have to stop the fight. I said, 'That's your decision.' But I thought the fight was going the way I wanted it to go."
Calderon (32-0-1, 6 KOs), making his fourth defense of the 108-pound title after a five-year reign as the top strawweight (105) champion, had been out of action since August. That's when he retained the world title in a rematch against Hugo Cazares. But that one also ended with a brutal accidental head butt that left Calderon bleeding, resulting in a seven-round technical decision victory.
Calderon, a southpaw, and Mayol (25-3-1, 19 KOs), a right-hander, accidentally clashed heads in the fourth round, leaving both of them trying to shake it off. But their accidental head butts were worse in the fifth round.
After a particularly bad one, Calderon emerged with a bad cut on his forehead. It was in a similar position as the cut he suffered against Cazares, which landed Calderon on the medically suspended list in Puerto Rico for the rest of 2008.
A second clash of heads moments later left both fighters again shaking their heads in pain and trying to clear the cobwebs. Esteves called time and had ringside physician Dr. Robert Polofsky examine Calderon for the second time in the round, but the bout was allowed to continue.
Calderon, 34, known for his defensive style and lack of aggression, showed a new side to his game as he started to stalk Mayol.
But another head butt in the sixth round forced Esteves to have the doctor check Calderon again, and this time the fight was stopped and sent to the scorecards.
"I'm very disappointed. I thought I won the fight," Mayol said. "As soon as he heals up, I hope they let me fight him again."
It was the third world title fight for Mayol, 27, who dropped to 0-2-1. He lost a close decision to then-strawweight titleholder Eagle Kyowa in 2006 in Japan. In 2007, in his only other fight in the United States, Mayol met then-junior flyweight titlist Ulises Solis and was knocked out in the eighth round in Rosemont, Ill.
Korobov wins easily
Blue chip middleweight prospect Matvey Korobov (6-0, 5 KOs) went the distance for the first time as a professional but easily outpointed Loren Myers (7-3, 2 KOs) of Fresno, Calif.
Korobov, 26, was a two-time world amateur champion and 2008 Russian Olympian before relocating to Florida to join his parents, who had moved to America in 1998 and left their son in Russia to continue training in a Russian sports academy with an eye on the Olympics.
Top Rank and manager Cameron Dunkin signed Korobov after the Olympics and view him as their best prospect.
Korobov hit Myers with everything throughout the fight, but Myers showed a very good chin in absorbing the blows and never looked like he was on the verge of going down.
Korobov will be back in action quickly. Top Rank has scheduled him to fight June 27 in Atlantic City, N.J., on the undercard of Juan Manuel Lopez's junior featherweight title defense against Olivier Lontchi.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.