ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Paul Williams won a majority decision over Erislandy Lara on Saturday night in the former two-division champion's contentious return to Boardwalk Hall.
The sparse crowd showered the ring with boos when the decision was announced for Williams (40-2, 28 KOs), who hadn't fought since his devastating knockout loss to Sergio Martinez last November.
"He was a tough customer," Williams said. "He came to fight."
Lara (15-1) is a former Cuban amateur star who defected in 2007 before the Beijing Olympics. He performed well and earned the crowd's favor in his biggest professional fight, although Williams threw nearly twice as many punches.
"I don't know what the judges saw," Lara said through a translator. "I thought I won the fight."
Lara repeatedly hurt Williams with left hands, but Williams raised a serious knot on Lara's left temple.
Judges Don Givens (116-114) and Hilton Whitaker II (115-114) both favored Williams, while Al Bennett scored it even at 114-114.
Martinez left Williams facedown on the canvas in the second round of his last fight in Atlantic City, halting the progression of a versatile, rangy fighter who threatened to be a title contender in four weight divisions.
Earlier, Rico Ramos won the WBC super bantamweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of Japan's Akifumi Shimoda.
Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) trailed on all three scorecards after six rounds, but won the fight with a single punch. He landed a left hook that thudded against Shimoda's jaw, sending him to the canvas in a heap.
Shimoda barely beat the count, but referee Benjy Esteves halted the bout with 14 seconds left in the round when Shimoda (23-3-1) stumbled across the ring.
"I was throwing right hands a lot and then I surprised him with a left," Ramos said. "I've been waiting for this moment for 16 years. I've worked hard and I'm happy with my victory."
Until the sudden, shocking end, Shimoda appeared to be on his way to defending his title, using a sharp right jab to pick at a cut on Ramos' face from an accidental head-butt.
All three judges had Shimoda well ahead after six rounds.
WBC featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez (49-7, 43 KOs) kept his title with a fourth-round stoppage of Tomas Villa (23-8-4), ending his first title defense with a left hook to the body.
Heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (33-2) climbed back into contention for another high-profile fight with a 10-round unanimous decision over Nigeria's Friday Ahunanya.
"I'm very disappointed in myself," said Arreola, a Riverside, Calif., fighter who has won five fights in the last year since losing to Vitali Klitschko and Tomasz Adamek.
"No disrespect to him, he has a solid chin, but I should have knocked him out in six or seven rounds. I didn't want it to go the distance. I don't get paid for overtime."