Srisaket Sor Rungvisai retained his World Boxing Council title by beating challenger Juan Estrada on Saturday, holding on in the later rounds to come out with a close majority decision.
Srisaket compiled a big lead by winning almost all of the first seven rounds in the 12-round super flyweight title fight at the Los Angeles Forum.
But the hard-hitting 31-year-old couldn't get the knockout he was hoping for against the Mexican, and even looked the more tired of the two in the final round.
Srisaket, who improved to 45-4-1 with 40 knockouts, won by a score of 117-111 on one judge's card. Another judge had him winning 115-113 and Las Vegas judge Dave Moretti scored it a draw, 114-114.
Still, the victory was impressive enough to validate his status as a bona fide star in the super flyweight division, especially after beating former champ Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez twice in 2017.
The pair traded heavy punches in the middle of the ring on Saturday throughout the thrilling fight, especially at the end of the first and fifth rounds. Srisaket, a southpaw, threw 879 punches overall while the challenger threw 671.
The hard-punching Srisaket built up points by dominating the early rounds of a fight that showcased their contrasting but effective boxing styles.
Srisaket excelled through the middle rounds but something happened in the eighth that turned the momentum in Estrada's favour.
Realizing he hadn't done enough in the early rounds to win without a knockout, Estrada went to work, dancing around the ring and counterpunching effectively. In the 12th, both fighters were tired but especially Srisaket who despite his exhaustion still flailed away with windmill punches.
Estrada believes that he did enough to win the fight.
"I felt I won the fight clearly," Estrada said. "I boxed him all night long, and then I attacked him the last three rounds. I landed great shots at the end. I don't know what the judges saw."