Joey Spencer went deeper than ever before to secure his latest win.

It came with mixed reviews, the 22-year-old prospect turned away a stiff challenge from Kevin Salgado. Judges Pam Hayashida (100-90), Sergio Caiz (99-91) and David Solivan (99-91) all scored in favor Spencer in a Fox-televised battle of unbeaten junior middleweights Sunday evening at Arena in Los Angeles.

Spencer admitted after his last fight—a non-televised, eight-round win over Ravshan Hudaynazarov on March 26—that he needed opposition that would force him to rise to the occasion. The brass at Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) honored those wishes, as Salgado came to test the heart and mettle of the 22-year-old prospect and recent father. The San Antonio-based Mexican provided a similar challenge in a draw with Bryant Perrella earlier this year.

The early rounds saw both fighters work their jab. Spencer doubled up on the weapon hoping to land a right hand behind it. Salgado shot his stick as a weapon, at times pushing back Spencer but just not active enough to capitalize on those moments.

Spencer benefited from being the busier of the two, though in a modest-paced affair. Salgado changed up his attack in round three, pushing past Spencer’s left to land a right uppercut. It was a singular moment, though, as Spencer was able to reestablish his desired distance and keep Salgado at the end of his jab.

Two-way action ensued in the closing moments of round four. Spencer remained jab-dependent but was forced to change up after Salgado worked his way inside. Both fighters connected with left hooks upstairs, while Salgado landed a looping right hand to Spencer’s midsection.

Salgado picked up the pace in round five. Spencer was still the busier fighter but forced to stand and trade after comfortably boxing through three rounds.

Spencer connected with an overhand right near the final minute of round six, his most effective punch of the fight to that point. It came behind a jab and prompted Salgado to complain of being struck behind the head. Salgado managed a left hook in the final 30 seconds, which Spencer took well and countered to close out the round.

Salgado was more effective in his assumed aggressor role in the later rounds. Spencer boxed behind a tight guard, defending against Salgado’s right hand and landing a combination late in round eight. Salgado briefly stopped punching before shooting a jab and attempting to position himself for an overhand right, though Spencer already made the defensive adjustment to move out of his opponent’s punching range.

Spencer entered the ninth round for the first time in his boxing lifetime, though hardly winning over the crowd while in uncharted territory. The bout was steady and competitive though a bit monotonous to that point. Salgado doubled up on his jab, but was met with a right hand by Spencer.

The bout continued at a chess match’s pace in the tenth and final round. Salgado let his hands go during the rare moments when he worked his way inside, with Spencer playing defense and not taking any risks. Salgado was too aggressive in the closing seconds, overshooting and leaving himself open for a counter right hand by Spencer.

Spencer advances to 16-0 (10KOs) with the win, marking his third distance fight in his past four starts. Salgado suffers his first defeat, falling to 14-1-1 (9KOs) after having fought to a ten-round draw with Perrella on an April 9 Showtime card.

Spencer-Salgado aired live on Fox, preceding a four-fight Fox Sports Pay-Per-View (which also airs on and Headlining the show, former unified heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz (34-2, 22KOs) faces two-time title challenger Luis Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs) in a scheduled twelve-round WBC heavyweight semifinal eliminator.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox