By employing early head movement, quick jabs and well-placed uppercuts, Jessie Vargas (24-0) won a unanimous decision over Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-1) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday. The win landed Vargas his first world title and lifted the WBA junior welterweight title from Allakhverdiev.
Here are the official scores for the fight, per Top Rank Boxing:
Despite the judges’ scores, the win didn’t come easy for Vargas. He had to work hard in almost every round. In defeat, Allakhverdiev had his moments. In fact, ESPN’s Dan Rafael and HBO’s Harold Lederman had him winning the bout.
I also scored it for Allakhverdiev at 115-114. HBO's punch stats indicate the fight was a bit closer than the scorecards indicated.
That said, the only judges’ cards that matter are the three appointed to score the bout in Vegas.
A little more than midway through the fight, Vargas seemed to be in total control. He was difficult for Allakhverdiev to hit, and his hand speed allowed him to get his punches off first.
In the seventh round, he opened up a nasty gash over Allakhverdiev’s eye. Top Rank’s Bob Sheridan seemed sure it would lead to a stoppage.
Vargas talked about trying to aggressively attack Allakhverdiev's cut after the fight.
Referee Tony Weeks had the doctor check the gash on two occasions, but the bout obviously continued.
Allakhverdiev seemed to pick up the pace in light of the cut. As his aggression mounted, Vargas seemed to begin to coast. The lack of energy from Vargas made it appear that Allakhverdiev took the final three rounds.
Many of the early frames were very close and could have gone to either fighter. Because of that, it’s hard to come down too hard on the official decision.
At one point it appeared the promising young fighter’s career had hit a major lull. Now he’s a world champion who’ll be looking for a bigger payday in his next bout.
Allakhverdiev made a good account of himself. But even as a champion, he wasn’t close to a household name. He should be able to find another opponent, but this is a major setback for a fighter struggling to garner respect and notoriety in the sport.
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