For about five rounds, Abraham ‘Super’ Nova struggled to figure out a way to preserve his unbeaten record.

A strong second surge managed to do the trick, as he earned a 10-round unanimous decision over Avery Sparrow in their ESPN-televised preliminary contest Thursday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Judge Max DeLuca had the bout 99-91, while judges Lisa Giampa and Patricia Morse Jarman were far more in line with the general home viewer in scoring the bout 97-93 and 96-94, respectively.

Nova was outpaced in total punches, though was the more accurate of the two in landing 112 of 428 total punches (26.2%). Sparrow threw 434 punches, but landed just 80 for a connect rate of just 18.4% according to Compubox. 

Sparrow had been out of the ring since last March, but didn’t show signs of ring rust that would normally come with a 15-month layoff. The Philadelphia-bred prospect bopped his way through every punch throughout the fight, telegraphing his jab which Nova was able to time both through sight and sound. The gloriously bearded Dominican prospect from Albany, New York largely played defense in the opening round, rather than seizing counter opportunities.

Round two saw a more deliberate attack from Nova, who began to make his presence felt A left hook connected on the fleshy midsection of Sparrow, who accepted the fight on three weeks’ notice as a replacement for Toka Kahn Clary. Action was slow in round three, though Nova enjoyed the best sequence of the frame with a left hook over the top of a lazy right hand from Sparrow after dropping his guard.

Sparrow picked up the pace in round four, not always (in fact, barely) landing but managing to force Nova on the defensive. The entire frame saw Sparrow come forward, while Nova seemed to be in search of landing one punch at a time. The trend continued through round five before Nova finally let his hands go a little more to start the second half of the fight.

“Sparrow was slippery in there and tough to hit,” Nova told after the bout. “I had to be patient and search for my openings. In the last few rounds, I began to time him, and that won me the fight.”

The pace and tempo were still being controlled by Sparrow, though Nova’s offense began to flow as the fight progressed. Sparrow continued to throw more but Nova was by far the more efficient puncher, shooting his right hand when able to inch forward just enough to put his height and reach advantages to good use.

Sparrow paid the price for his ineffective aggression in round eight, as Nova dropped a right hand over the top of his guard and directly on his chin. Sparrow wisely clinched out of harm’s way during the subsequent exchange before spitting out his mouthpiece after falling to the canvas as the two collided.

The sequence provided Nova with plenty of confidence, coming out aggressive at the start of round nine. A left hand by Nova pushed Sparrow to the ropes, with the Philly native’s offense dulled as he was reduced to one punch at a time. Nova landed a left hook later in the round, which Sparrow rode out and sought to counter with a looping right hand that missed the mark.

The instructions issued in both corners were for their charges to go out and take the 10th and final round. Nova obeyed that advice down to the letter, connecting with right hands, jabs and left hooks. Sparrow never wilted, but also couldn’t land anything of substance to turn the tide.

Nova advances to 19-0 (14KOs) with the win, gaining valuable experience even if some of the shine came off of his pristine scouting report.

“Listen, this was a learning experience,” Nova confesses. “I’ll be ready for the top guys in the 130-pound division very, very soon.”

Sparrow falls to 10-2 (3KOs), though at least able to fight for the first time in three attempts. His planned bout with unbeaten lightweight Ryan Garcia was canceled when he was arrested hours before the weigh-in due to an outstanding warrant on a weapons charge. Two months later, he passed out due to dehydration during fight week for a canceled bout with James Wilkins last November.

The bout served as the chief support to a bantamweight clash between Australia’s Jason Moloney (21-1, 17KOs) and Mexicali’s Leonardo Baez (19-2-2, 7KOs) in the evening’s main event.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox