Andres Cortes fell short of making weight, failed to keep pace with his opponent’s work rate in the ring and appeared to run out of gas at the end of Friday’s fight with Abraham Nova at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas.

All Cortes did was win the fight.

It just wasn’t entirely clear how, despite all three scorecards – 97-93 (twice), 96-94 – favoring Cortes in the 10-round junior lightweight matchup.

Cortes (22-0, 12 KOs), a native of Las Vegas, certainly had his moments, and Nova (23-3, 16 KOs), of Albany, New York, didn’t exactly execute an airtight game plan. But not only did the numbers fail to add up, it’s hard to imagine the outcome meeting the eyeball test of anyone but the three officials who were in charge of rendering the verdict.

Cortes, who weighed in almost a pound over the junior lightweight limit at Thursday’s weigh-in, was ineligible to win a vacant minor belt that was meant to go to the winner. Kind of fitting for such a strange fight.

After an uneventful first round, Nova, with a 7-inch reach advantage, came out of his corner in Round 2 firing at Cortes’ body from distance, seemingly setting the tone. Oddly, he immediately allowed Cortes to close the gap, put in some inside work and muscle him into a corner, where Nova went to a high guard, the fighters met head to head and Cortes set to unloading a series of compact but punishing shots.

A short lecture from his corner seemed to reset Nova, who came out for the third minding distance, leading with his jab and seemingly more cautious of Cortes’ advantage inside. He tied up a charging Cortes and, coming out of a clinch broken up by referee Robert Hoyle, tore off a brilliant left hook-straight right combination. Cortes finished the round worse for the wear, with a cut over his left eye caused by an accidental head-butt.

“He was just very dirty in there,” Cortes said after the fight. “He called me the dirty one, but he was really dirty in there with all these head-butts and stuff. But it was a good fight.”

Inexplicably, Nova kept welcoming Cortes into scrums. Rather than jabbing ruthlessly and timing counter shots from outside, Nova let Cortes repeatedly charge in, taking him on like a mountain bighorn with an inferiority complex. Initially, Nova gave as good as he got, but Cortes was in his happy place, letting fly with sinister uppercuts and short overhand rights as Nova covered up.

Finally, Nova spent more time in the middle rounds using his range and picking at his opponent, and Cortes seemed to be slowly fading, barreling into the fray with less frequency. On those occasions when Cortes did come forward, Nova still seemed pleased to oblige him. In the eighth, the fighters traded big shots, and Nova’s fitness and activity seemed to show themselves at levels above those of Cortes.

“No excuses, no excuses,” Cortes said when asked whether the added weight affected his stamina late in the fight. “Just some little things I’ve gotta tune up, but no excuses.”

In the ninth, Cortes banged home an uppercut and another strafing overhand right with Nova on the ropes, and some of the bounce briefly left Nova’s legs. But Nova rallied late and smashed a right hand to Cortes’ temple, then kept piling it on. Now it was Cortes on heavy feet, and Nova brought all the offense he could muster – 120 punches thrown in the round, according to CompuBox. Although more subdued in the 10th, Nova played it smart – the way he arguably should have all 10 rounds, frankly – landing a handful of clean shots when Cortes, sensing the urgency, came forward.