Gabriel Muratalla drew the task of fighting one slot ahead of his younger brother, in a bout which nearly produced his first career defeat

The pre-school teacher and full-time bantamweight from Fontana, California picked up his third win in The Bubble, delivering Brooklyn’s Justice Bland his first pro loss via four-round decision. Scores were 38-36 across the board in favor of Muratalla in their ESPN+ prelim battle Saturday evening from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Muratalla—who along with younger brother Raymond (who faces Cesar Valenzuela) is trained by Robert Garcia—was eager to fight at a short distance in the opening round, welcomed by his foe. Bland let his hands go, though a bit overzealous in his attack as a right hand caught Muratalla behind the head in forcing him to the canvas, where Bland let another right hand shot rip. The latter shot was ruled a foul by referee Robert Hoyle, who instructed the judges to deduct a point while giving Muratalla time to recover.

Action resumed, providing competitive two-way action for the rest of the frame in making it tough for the three judges to score. Hoyle made it even more difficult, informing all three officials well after the bell to score the knockdown sequence as well despite never ruling it at the moment nor issuing a mandatory eight count.

The pace never let up the rest of the way. Muratalla fought as if he was in a hole and needed to make up ground, landing heavy right hands on the inside in round two. Bland continued to return to fire, ripping power shots in spurts though also forced to play more defense than offense.

A similar pattern transpired in round three, with Muratalla taking the lead and throwing punches from all angles. Bland effectively countered while fighting in reverse, shooting a long right hand along with an occasional uppercut.

With the fight potentially in the balance, Muratalla didn’t leave anything to chance in the fourth and final round. The 26-year old prospect consistently outworked Bland (2-1, 0KOs), who spent most of the frame fighting behind a tight guard and picking his counter opportunities. Muratalla failed to defend against Bland’s straight right and uppercut, but was able to make up for it through sheer volume. A pair of left hooks landed for Muratalla to seal the deal and pick up his second straight decision victory in improving to 5-0 (3KOs).

The win is the third this summer for Muratalla, who hadn’t fought since last September before picking up Bubble victories in June, July and now on Saturday evening.

The bout served in supporting capacity to the thrice-scheduled bout between unified junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17KOs) and former beltholder Viktor Postol (31-2, 12KOs).

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox