Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas - In a crossroads super featherweight battle, former world champion Francisco Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) from Mexico City, Mexico won a nine round technical decision over Stephen Smith (25-4, 15 KOs) of Liverpool, UK. The scores were 89-82, 88-83, 88-83.
The fight was stopped during the ninth due to a severe injury to Smith's left ear from an accidental clash of hedas.
For Vargas, this was his first bout since suffering his first career defeat, when he was stopped, and lost his WBC title, to Miguel Berchelt in January. Prior to that, in June 2016, he fought in a Fight of The Year battle with Orlando Salido - which ended in a draw.
Coming in, Smith was 2-2 in his last four fights - with defeats in his two biggest tests against Jason Sosa and Jose Pedroza. Smith is the brother of the big Smith clan, with Callum Smith, Paul Smith and Liam Smith.
It was a real active fight in the first five rounds, with Smith holding his own and fighting Vargas on the inside. But Vargas was landing the harder and more stiffer punches.
The contest continued to play out with at a very active pace, with both having moments and doing good work at close range with hard shots.
Vargas' hard shots were starting to do a lot of damage in the second half of the contest. The left ear of Smith practically hanging off in the ninth round, from a clash of heads that took place earlier in the action and the ringside doctor stopped the bout - sending it to the scorecards.