After 12 rounds, IBF super feather champ Argenis Mendez and challenger Arash Usmanee were deadlocked on the scorecards Friday night on Mike Tyson's debut as a promoter at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY.
Mendez, 21-2-1 (11), was making his initial IBF title defense after winning it with a KO of Juan Carlos Salgado in March and the lanky Dominican Republic native.
Afghanistan born Usmanee, 20-1-1 (10), coming off a controversial loss to Rances Barthelemy in January, made the most of his title shot by starting fast, pressuring the champion and finding success with right hands in the first two frames.
But the champion's greater skill and quickness started to show by the third when he began to make Usmanee miss but didn't begin to counterpunch effectively until the middle rounds.
Usmanee tired by the seventh frame and paid the price as Mendez went to work both upstairs and down with an effective offense. Usmanee got his second wind in the eighth but the slippery defense of Mendez nullified much of the challenger's efforts.
The next two rounds saw trench warfare as the champion went toe to toe with his rival but neither man could hurt the other, with Mendez landing the more accurate punches.
Both fighters were tired by the final round but continued with great heart with Usmanee rocking the champion in the final moments.
When the scores were read, Usmanee collected a 115-113 margin on one card with 114-114 the verdict on the other two, resulting in a Majority Draw and thus a title retention for Mendez.
Expect a rematch.
Chief support at Turning Stone was provided by an Interim WBA featherweight title scrap won by Argentina's Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar, 23-1 (18), who dropped Dominican Republic native Claudio Marrero, 14-1 (11), in the sixth enroute to posting a 116-111, 115-112, 114-113 UD in a battle of southpaws.