Rene Mark Cuarto made the most of his first career title fight.

The IBF strawweight belt changed hands as Cuarto outlasted Pedro Taduran to claim a 12-round unanimous decision victory in their thriller Saturday afternoon (local time) in General Santos City, Philippines.

All three judges— Roel Densing,  Brembot Dulalas and Sabas Ponpon Jr.—scored the contest 115-113 in favor of Cuarto, who came up big in their entertaining main event.

The lack of a crowd in the closed-doors venue did not at all dampen the enthusiasm in the fast-paced strawweight scrap. Taduran spent the early rounds stalking his challenger, connecting with long uppercuts from the outside while Cuarto employed a stick-and-move tactic.

Taduran continued to come forward, though walking into a jaw-rattling left hook at the start of round five. Cuarto used the moment to re-establish his desired distance and pace, circling the exterior of the ring and forcing Tadurna to go on the hunt.

The second half of the bout opened to the same developing trend. Taduran sought to smother his challenger, only to get raked with straight right hands on the inside. Cuarto never stuck around for long at close quarters, landing his shots and then immediately returning to lateral movement. Taduran closed the gap in a big way late in round seven, connecting with body shots and pinning Cuarto along the ropes though unable to put away his feisty challenger.

Taduran went on the attack in round eight, while Cuarto sought to box after tasting the power of the defending titlist. Cuarto was warned late in round ten for landing a right hand while pushing down on the back of Taduran’s head, immediately returning to boxing on the outside.

The championship rounds saw Taduran come forward, hoping to pin down Cuarto and turn a boxing match into a slugfest. Cuarto would remain stationary just long enough to land a shoeshine before going back on the move. Time was called late in round eleven after both boxers tumbled to the canvas.

Cuarto avoided a knockdown call in the 12th and final round when slipping to the canvas after nearly falling through the ropes. An overzealous Taduran tapped Cuarto with light punches while he was down, drawing a warning from the referee.

Fatigue clearly set in for Cuarto, who hoped to run out the clock but who caught a breather when loose tape on his glove required repair. The challenger came out throwing once action resumed, connecting with a right hand and spending the rest of the round and fight circling the ring while remaining well out of Taduran’s effective punching range.

Cuarto advances to 19-2-2 (11KOs) with the win, extending his current four-fight unbeaten streak since a 12-round unanimous decision loss to then-unbeaten countryman Samuel Silva in their March 2019 title eliminator. Silva went on suffer his first career defeat to Taduran in their vacant IBF strawweight title fight.

Taduran went on to make two successful defenses before falling short versus Cuarto. The loss leaves the 24-year old southpaw at 14-3-1 (11KOs), ending his 17-month title reign in the process.

The bout streamed live on Powcast Sports’ YouTube channel.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox