When the fight between Pablo Cesar Cano and Ruslan Madyiev was stopped between the fifth and sixth rounds, Cano sure looked like the loser. His face was slathered in blood pouring from a deep gash on his forehead, but the Mexican veteran was actually the winner.
The scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout was the featured attraction of a Golden Boy on ESPN card at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Over the first four rounds, Cano, 28, of Tlanepanta, outboxed and outpunched Madyiev, 25, of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Cano moved forward behind a probing jab, hooking hard to the body and landing accurate combinations to the head.
Madyiev lashed out with an occasional right hand to the head but quickly fell behind. Then, as the fifth round drew to a close, an accidental clash of heads opened the fight-ending laceration.
Cano's corner could not stem the flow of blood during the one-minute rest period, so the fight was stopped and went to the scorecard. All three judges scored it 49-46 in Cano's favor.
It was an important victory for Cano (31-7-1, 21 KOs) who had been knocked out in his previous fight, in October 2017.
Madyiev (12-1, 5 KOs) suffered his first professional loss. He appeared to be coming on in the fifth when he stunned Cano with a right to the head. But the clash of heads prevented any chance of his rallying from behind.
In the co-feature, Franchon Crews-Dezurn upset Maricela Cornejo via majority 10-round decision to win a super middleweight title.
Crews-Dezurn, 27, of Baltimore, was the aggressor throughout the bout, chasing the backpedaling Cornejo, 31, of Los Angeles, around the ring.
The combination of relentless pressure, right hands to the head and hooks to the body seemed to take the more experienced Cornejo by surprise. She simply couldn't handle Crews-Dezurn's bellicose style and was seemingly content to protect herself the best she could by clinching whenever her opponent got too close for comfort.
The elated Crews-Dezurn (4-1, 1 KO) won by 99-91 on two of the judges' scorecards, while the third judge handed in a controversial 95-95 score.