It wasn't pretty, or even particularly exciting, but challenger Adrien Broner managed to outpoint reigning WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi last night at Brooklyn's Barclays Center by split decision.
Broner did appear to be fine operating at 147 pounds after jumping up from the lightweight division, looking to be the stronger man against Malignaggi.
One thing was certain, it was a close fight, as evidenced by each man winning a card by scores of 115-113 but the 117-111 score given to Broner was far wider than the action indicated.
Malignaggi clearly outworked Broner in every round, particularly the early frames in which the Ohio man threw very few punches, content to stalk the champion and over and over again shake his head, rubbishing Malignaggi's efforts.
Broner began to throw more after the midway point, generally hitting Malignaggi with his accurate efforts but was still sparing with his offense, while Malignaggi continued to let his hands go.
The head of the challenger, with his Floyd Mayweather style crab defense, proved to be difficult to hit with straight shots so Malignaggi focused mostly on the arms and body of Broner, landing to the head when mixing in those attempts with the busy body work.
But Malignaggi's feather-fisted shots had no effect on Broner, who continued to come forward for the remainder, digging to the body anytime that Malignaggi stopped his constant movement and attempted to clinch.
Perhaps Broner had counted on his heavy hands, which had produced a sizable KO percentage at lower weights, to finish off Malignaggi, but the New Yorker handled it well anytime he was caught flush.
Broner, thus far, and this bout proved no different, has won bouts without appearing to work very hard in order to do so. One one hand, it's a testament to his abilities that he can do so at world level but what will happen when he applies this lackadaisical attitude while in big potential bouts with the likes of high activity fighters such as Danny Garcia, Tim Bradley or Robert Guerrero?
With the win, Broner moves to 27-0 (22), and adds the WBA welter crown to a trophy cabinet that already contains the WBC lightweight and WBO super feather belts. Malignaggi drops to 32-5 (7), his reign over after just one successful defense.
The undercard at Barclays Center featured a balls to the wall action packed thriller for the vacant WBC super middle strap as Sakio Bika, 32-5-2 (21), shook off previous title bout losses to Andre Ward and Joe Calzaghe to post a majority decision over a game, previously undefeated Marco Antonio Periban, 20-1 (13).
There were many tidal shifts in the bout as both men took turns in control and had to overcome cuts from accidental headbutts but in the end, Bika was awarded two cards of 116-112, 115-113 while the third was even at 114-114.
There was a heavyweight rematch between former IBF cruiserweight title challenger Johnathan Banks, 29-2-1 (19), and Seth Mitchell, 26-1-1 (19), seven months after Banks shocked the heavyweight division by halting the much larger Mitchell in two rounds.
This time the results were different as Banks was dropped in the second but recovered to shake up Mitchell in the third and eighth frames in an otherwise
Perhaps the second round canvassing made Banks wary of Mitchell's power as the veteran, who also trains World Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko, seemed content to coast his was to a 114-112, 115-112, 117-109 points loss after 12 rounds.
Banks gave up nearly 30 pounds to former American collegiate football player Mitchell and if he can still make the 200 pound limit at cruiser, should possibly consider a return there.
Mitchell may have won this rematch but could be in for trouble down the road unless he can improve defense to avoid taking flush shots from the big punchers he will face when continuing his climb toward world level.