Juan Macias Montiel realizes he didn’t come close to beating Jermall Charlo last Saturday night.

Montiel still feels that he legitimized himself as a middleweight contender by pushing the unbeaten WBC champion at times during their 12-round title fight. Going the distance was a victory of sorts for the determined Mexican underdog, whom Charlo went off as a 30-1 favorite to defeat in their Showtime Championship Boxing main event at Toyota Center in Houston.

“I felt like I had to go through this to prove myself, to show that I belong in the major leagues of boxing,” Montiel stated. “And now that I have, I’m ready for whatever comes next.”

Los Mochis’ Montiel implored his promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, to secure him another high-profile opportunity now that he has proven his durability and toughness against one of boxing’s best middleweights.

“I hope my promoter, Sampson, is gonna allow me to have the chance to be number one,” Montiel said, “and at least attempt to do so in the future. I don’t know what you all think, but I think I definitely earned another opportunity to try to do something.”

Prior to Saturday night, Montiel was doubted due to his second-round knockout defeat to former WBO junior middleweight champ Jaime Munguia (37-0, 30 KOs) and his 10-round split draw with Hugo Centeno Jr. (27-3-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC). Charlo previously knocked out Centeno in the second round.

Houston’s Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) hurt Montiel early in both the fifth and sixth rounds, but the resilient Montiel managed to survive those troublesome moments. The 27-year-old contender rallied in some of the ensuing rounds, when he pressed the action, kept Charlo on his back foot and landed power punches while mostly fighting out of a southpaw stance.

“It was my hunger to be a world champion that allowed me to survive,” Montiel said. “My determination to push through in this fight and become a world champion is what got me through this and what’s gonna get me through so many other things in the future.”

The 31-year-old Charlo still won by huge margins on all three scorecards (120-108, 119-109, 118-109). He commended Montiel (22-5-2, 22 KOs) for his toughness, despite that the courageous challenger didn’t win many rounds.

Montiel, meanwhile, is encouraged by the way he performed against Charlo, who soundly defeated Ukraine’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-3, 10 KOs) in his previous 12-round fight.

“I’m always going after number one,” Montiel said. “That’s my objective. There are the Golovkins and the Canelos of the world, and I always want to fight against the best, no matter what.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.