SAN ANTONIO – Amilcar Vidal proved his readiness Saturday night at least for legitimate middleweight contenders.
The unbeaten Uruguayan showed some defensive flaws, but he beat his best opponent to date, Immanuwel Aleem, by majority decision in a closely contested, 10-round, 162-pound bout on the Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano undercard at AT&T Center. Aleem became just the third opponent to take Vidal (13-0, 11 KOs) beyond the second round, the second opponent to go the distance with him and produced some strong moments of his own.
The game Aleem’s efforts still weren’t enough to sway the judges in this fan-friendly opener of this “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader. Judges Ruben Carrion and Glen Crocker scored Vidal a 97-93 winner, and Anthony De Los Santos scored the action even (95-95).
Vidal scored three straight first-round knockouts against unbeaten opponents before he met Aleem, who was more experienced against experienced opponents. Vidal’s body attack slowed down Aleem at times, but the shorter, stouter Aleem took Vidal’s power well overall.
Aleem (18-3-2, 11 KOs), of Richmond, Virginia, still slipped to 1-2-1 in his past four fights. Vidal joined Hugo Centeno Jr. and Ronald Ellis as opponents who’ve beaten Aleem, who also has draws with Matt Korobov and Demond Nicholson on his record.
Vidal and Aleen picked up in an action-packed 10th round where they left off in a memorable ninth round. They traded hard shots from close distances during those final three minutes and the exhausted combatants embraced respectfully once the final bell sounded.
Aleem and Vidal drilled each other with power punches during a back-and-forth ninth round that thoroughly entertained the crowd.
A left hook by Aleem stopped Vidal in his tracks about 40 seconds into the eighth round. Vidal’s left hook up top forced Aleem to move away from him with just under two minutes remaining in the eighth round.
An active Aleem tried to keep Vidal off him later in that eighth round, yet an aggressive Vidal continued to land hard head and body shots. Aleem briefly neutralized Vidal with two left hooks to his head in the final minute an entertaining eighth round and blasted Vidal with a left hook to his head just before the bell sounded to end that round.
Vidal’s short right hand early in the seventh round made Aleem retreat. Aleem landed a hard, right uppercut with just under a minute to go in the seventh round, but Vidal kept coming forward.
Aleem backed a seemingly fatigued Vidal into the ropes at the start of the sixth round. Aleem landed hard shots to Vidal’s head and body, including a right hand that thudded throughout the arena at exactly the halfway point of the sixth round.
Vidal mounted a comeback late in the sixth, when landed hard right to Aleem’s body and then three vicious lefts downstairs. That third left hook to Aleem’s body made Aleem bend over and mov away from Vidal.
Aleem made it to the end of the round, but Vidal was wearing him down.
A straight right by Vidal snapped back Aleem’s head just before the midway mark of the fifth round. Aleem backed Vidal against the ropes later in the fifth round and landed several power punches before blasting Vidal with a flush left hook after Vidal spun away from the ropes.
Vidal nailed Aleem with a left hook to the body and quickly followed with a left uppercut up top in the fourth round.
Aleem landed a hard right hand when Vidal was backed against the ropes with about a minute to go in the fourth round. Vidal and Aleem then spent the remainder of the fourth round trading hard shots on the inside.
Vidal blasted Aleem with a right hand as Aleem pulled back with his hands down late in the third round.
About 45 seconds into the second round, Vidal landed a left hook that got Aleem’s attention. Vidal countered Aleem’s left hook with a straight right hand with just under a minute remaining in the second round.
Aleem landed a left hook to Vidal’s body just after the midway mark of the opening round. Otherwise, though, Aleem mostly was careful as Vidal stalked him during those first three minutes.
Vidal did land a right hand that penetrated Aleem’s guard late in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.