As he normally does, Cesar Cuenca went the distance Saturday. The only difference this time was that the Argentine fighter walked away with a world title.
Stretching his unbeaten streak to 48 fights, Cuenca outboxed China's Ik Yang over 12 rounds to claim a vacant junior welterweight title by unanimous decision at the Venetian Macao's Cotai Arena in Macau.
The 34-year-old Cuenca still owns only two knockout victories, but the southpaw managed to thoroughly frustrate and hand Yang his first professional defeat, winning by scores of 117-108, 116-109 and 115-110.
In the co-main event, Nonito Donaire continued his dominant return to the junior featherweight division. Donaire, who has held world titles in four weight classes, dropped Anthony Settoul three times en route to a second-round TKO.
Cuenca (48-0, 2 KOs) scored a knockdown in the first round when he sent Yang falling into the ropes with a straight left hand. Yang returned the favor in the fifth, dropping Cuenca with a right hand. But Yang, well behind and fighting out of desperation in the 12th round, was deducted one point for an intentional takedown.
Before losing to Cuenca, the 30-year-old Yang (19-1, 14 KOs) had won his previous five fights by knockout and hadn't gone the distance in any fight since 2008.
For Donaire, it was his second straight second-round stoppage since moving down to 122 pounds after losing his featherweight title to Nicholas Walters last October. He also finished William Prado in the second round in March.
The 32-year-old Donaire (35-3, 23 KOs) knocked Settoul (20-4, 8 KOs) down twice in the first round with body shots. Then, in the second round, a powerful right hand sent the French fighter to the canvas on all fours as his corner threw in the towel.
With the victory, Donaire could be in line for a world title fight against England's unbeaten Scott Quigg, who retained his belt Saturday with a second-round knockout of former titlist Kiko Martinez in Manchester, England.