Alberto Melian remains a long way off from his bold claim as the “Argentinean Vasiliy Lomachenko.”

Following his latest performance, he also remains a long way off from his dream of collecting titles in 2020.

The 2016 Olympian from Argentina was taken deep and eventually drowned in a 10-round unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Colombia’s Oscar Negrete in their DAZN-streamed bantamweight heat Thursday evening at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.

Scores were 98-92 twice and 97-93 in favor of Negrete, who enjoyed a strong second half surge to pull ahead in their high-octane bout.

Melian spent the early portion of the contest bouncing on his toes and pumping his jab. The former amateur standout sought to pick apart Negrete, who was fighting someone other than Joshua Franco for the first time in more than 15 months. The scrappy Colombian fought behind a tight guard and remained patient in waiting for an opening for his right hand. Enough would land to produce a cut just outside the right eye of Melian, the wound accurately ruled as the cause of a punch.

The same pattern held true in round two, though with Negrete offering a bit more lateral movement. Melian added a left hook behind his jab though often falling well short of its target. Negrete ended the frame bullying Melian into the ropes but not taking advantage of the sequence as he returned to the outside.

Melian reestablished his jab at the start of round three, but quickly transitioning into an inside game as he began to sit down more on his punches. Both boxers targeted the body during terrific two-way exchanges at close quarters, with Melian getting the far better of the action for the first time in the fight to that point.

Negrete was given a long hard look by the ringside physician after a physically punishing round four as Melian continued to sit on his punches and let his hands go. The confident Argentine was averaging well over 100 punches per round, sacrificing accuracy in the process but with enough getting through to cause Negrete’s face to begin to swell.

More of the same came in round five, with much of the action taking place shoulder-to-shoulder and with Melian landing the heavier artillery. Negrete managed to deflect several left hooks coming in, although a right hand followed by a left hook briefly left him on wobbly legs.

As the bout entered the second half, Negrete was able to turn the slugfest into a boxing match. The high-volume Colombian puncher used lateral movement to avoid the incoming, forcing Melian to plod forward. Negrete took advantage of the shift, connecting with straight right hands behind his purposeful jab. A left hook caught the attention of Melian, whose offense dramatically decreased over the course of the three-minute frame. 

The tide would shift once again in round seven, as Melian managed to cut off the ring—surprisingly without the benefit of a lead jab. With action returning to a phone booth’s distance, Melian connected with right hands and left hooks from odd angles, although Negrete enjoyed success whenever able to create space.

Negrete managed to time Melian’s attack in round eight, picking him apart with crisp right hands. The momentum carried over into round nine, with Melian doing his way to punch his way back into the lead though laboring in his attack as Negrete was quicker to the draw.

With the fight seemingly on the table, both boxers put their best foot forward in the 10th and final round. Melian shot his left hook while offering angles, but Negrete never taking the bait as he continued to punch straight down the middle. The majority of the action took place in center ring, with Melian pushing his punchstat totals well beyond 1,000 punches thrown though Negrete landing at a much higher clip.

It was well reflected on the cards, which wasn’t the case in any of Negrete’s last three fights. A case could have been made for either Franco or himself going 3-0 in their recent set, with barely four rounds separating the two over 30 competitive frames. The hard-luck trialhorse caught a break on Thursday, picking up his first win since July 2018 as he improves to 19-2-2 (7KOs).

 Melian falls to 6-2 (4KOs) and now at a point where there is cause for concern over his career direction. The 30-year old has been matched aggressively right out the gate but has now suffered two losses in his last three starts, having suffered a similarly-styled defeat to Leonardo Baez last July.

The bout streamed live on DAZN, in chief support to streaking flyweight Ricardo Rafael Sandoval’s scheduled 10-round heat versus Philippines’ Raymond Tabugon.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox