Welterweight contenders Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme waged a bloody, fast-paced and highly entertaining fight that featured clean punching and two knockdowns -- and ended in a draw before 6,235 on Saturday night at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Dulorme, knocked down the 10th round, pulled out the majority draw when he dropped Vargas in the waning moments of the 12th round with what turned out to be the final punch of fight.
Two judges scored the bout 113-113 and one had it 115-111 for Vargas, a former junior welterweight and welterweight world titlist who fought to his second draw in a row after going even-up with Adrien Broner in April. ESPN.com also had it 113-113.
It was a rousing finish for Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn's first United States-based card as part of the eight-year, $1 billion deal he made in May with new sports streaming service DAZN to deliver 16 American cards per year in addition to 16 others he promotes in the United Kingdom.
"It really caught me by surprise, I'm not going to lie," Vargas said of the late knockdown. "I was really confident in the 12th round, thought I had everything in control. I started with a punch and then I went on the attack, I saw him coming, backed up, he caught me with the punch and I was knocked down.
"He was better than I expected. All credit to him, he's a very good fighter. He comes and gives it his all in each and every fight. Unfortunately, we went in with a draw. I was looking forward to the victory."
The fight began with good action and it stayed that way. In the final seconds of the first round, Dulorme caught Vargas with a left hand when Vargas reached with punch that missed. Vargas lost his balance and nearly went down.
An accidental head but in the second round opened a cut over Vargas' right eye and the blood flowed down his face. But after a difficult start, Vargas turned things around in the fourth round when he hurt Dulorme with a right hand that forced him to hold. Vargas landed a lot of punches in what was a big round for him.
A left hand from Dulorme re-opened Vargas' cut early in the eighth round and the blood poured down the side of his face.
"I'm scarred for life, but it comes with the territory. I don't complain," Vargas said. "It was a couple head butts, and I knew he was going to do that frequently. Unfortunately it did happen and there was nothing I could do to avoid it."
Midway through the 10th round, Vargas nailed Dulorme with a right hand on the chin to drop him to a knee. He was up at eight and didn't appear badly hurt.
And then, in the waning moments of the final round, Dulorme (24-3-1, 16 KOs), 28, of Puerto Rico, cracked Vargas (28-2-2, 10 KOs), 29, of Las Vegas, with a clean right hand that forced him to touch his left glove to the canvas for a knockdown that made the fight a draw.
Throughout the fight, just when it looked like one man might take over the other came back to land his own punches. The fight was also virtually even in terms of blows landed. According to CompuBox punch statistics, Vargas landed 122 of 521 shots (23 percent) and Dulorme landed 124 of 420 (30 percent).
It was a good rebound for Dulorme, a former junior welterweight title challenger. He hadn't fought since losing a 10-round decision to contender Yordenis Ugas 14 months ago on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard. Dulorme declined to be interviewed after the fight.
For Vargas, while he wasn't happy with the draw, he was more accepting of it than against Broner.
"The last one brings a sour taste. This one I felt like I had the edge but I can't complain about the draw," he said. "If that's what the judges saw, all I can do it respect it. (As for a possible rematch) I'm going to leave that up to my promoter Eddie Hearn and my advisors. Whatever they say goes. I'm looking forward to coming back real soon, but for now, it's back to the drawing board."
Miller destroys Adamek
Heavyweight contender Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller, with a 90-pound weight advantage, destroyed crowd favorite but long faded Tomasz Adamek in a vicious second-round knockout victory to keep himself in the picture for a possible shot against unified world titlist Anthony Joshua.
Both fighters were at a career-heavy weight, Adamek at 227 but Miller at a whopping 317 pounds, 13 heavier than his last bout in April. The massive size difference was the difference in the fight.
Miller wobbled Adamek with a right hand in the first round and later doubled him over with a left to the body. Adamek's legs were shaky and it appeared to be only a matter of time until Miller (22-0-1, 19 KOs), 30, of Brooklyn, New York, stopped him.
That happened in the second round when Miller, who predicted an early knockout, rocked former cruiserweight and light heavyweight titlist Adamek (53-6, 31 KOs), 41, a Polish hero fighting out of Jersey City, New Jersey, with a right hand. Moments later he floored Adamek with a right uppercut and referee Mark Nelson counted him out at 51 seconds, likely ending Adamek's career.
"Tonight was fun," Miller said. "I noticed that my size, in coming forward, he missed. A couple shots and he was winded from just missing. I know I can punch. I beat him up. Let my hands go, go to the body."
With Adamek out of the way, Miller turned his attention to a possible Joshua fight.
"When it comes to boxing, there's always politics and trying to maneuver," he said. "Eddie Hearn is still keeping him away from me right now, but I think the AJ fight is going to come through sooner rather than later. It's gonna be crazy. I can't wait."
Beterbiev KO's Johnson
Light heavyweight world titlist Artur Beterbiev found himself in a dog fight with mandatory challenger Callum Johnson, but rallied from a second-round knockdown to score a fourth-round knockout victory in his first title defense.
Late in the first round, Beterbiev nailed Johnson with a left hook to drop him after Johnson, with his head down, untangled himself from the ropes. But Johnson responded in the second round by knocking Beterbiev down with a left hook on the chin with a little over a minute left in the round.
In the third round, Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs), 33, a Russian native fighting out of Montreal, opened a cut over Johnson's right eye and the blood flowed down his face as they traded powerful punches on the inside.
In the fourth round, Beterbiev landed a brutal right hand to Johnson's temple and he melted to the canvas. Johnson Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs), 33, of England, got to all fours but could not beat the count and referee Celestino Ruiz waved it off at 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
"I hit him in first round, he hit me in second round," Beterbiev said with a laugh. "It's boxing. (The knockdown) is an experience for me, but I am happy. I'm happy for that fight. I won by KO. It's good. One time I'm down. Everyone can get knocked down."
According to CompuBox, Beterbiev, the heavier puncher, landed 81 of 249 punches (33 percent) and Johnson landed 31 of 123 shots (25 percent).
"I was doing OK. I was a tentative," Johnson said. "He's big and strong and obviously he can punch very hard. It was a 50-50 shootout. I was that close. Believe me, I'll be back. One day I will be a world champion. I really believe that. I know I can mix with the very best. I'll be back. Trust me."
Beterbiev won the vacant title last November by 12th-round knockout of Enrico Koelling but had been out of the ring since while ironing out a legal dispute with promoter Yvon Michel before they brought on Hearn as co-promoter.
Roman stops McDonnell
Junior featherweight Danny Roman (26-2-1, 10 KOs) retained his world title for the third time with a hard-fought 10th-round knockout of Gavin McDonnell (20-2-2, 5 KOs).
Los Angeles' Danny Roman, 28, kept his hands busy throughout the fight and began to get to McDonnell, 32, of England, in the fifth round when he landed a hard left hand to the head and bloodied his nose. The blood began to flow freely in the sixth round when Roman landed a perfect uppercut that nailed him in the nose.
In the 10th round, Roman buckled McDonnell with a clean right hand to the chin and then landed several more punches to knock him down to all fours. McDonnell beat the count but referee Nelson did not like how he looked and waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
"It was a great test. Gavin McDonnell is a hell of a fighter," Roman said. "I didn't take anything away from him. He gave it his best. It was my night. We stuck to our plan -- break him down, break him down. The opportunity (for a knockout) came and we took advantage of it. We knew he was going to be landing during the whole fight. We were just trying to get it at the right moment, right hand with a double uppercut."
As he has after previous fights, Roman would like a unification bout.
"I want to challenge all the champions. I want all the belts -- Rey Vargas, Isaac Dogboe, and (TJ) Doheny. Let's unify."
McDonnell dropped to 0-2 in world title fights, having lost a majority decision to Rey Vargas in a vacant title bout in February 2017. But he had won four fights in a row coming into the fight with Roman.
According to CompuBox, Roman landed 117 of 698 punches (25 percent) and McDonnell connected with 145 of 793 (18 percent).
In a surprising result of one of the preliminary bouts, heavyweight Matt Cameron (3-1-1, 1 KO) routed pro debuting Nkosi Solomon (0-1), 23, of New York, in a huge upset. Cameron, 34, of Chicago, won 39-33 on all three scorecards as he hurt Solomon in the first round, dropped him in the third and fourth rounds and Solomon also had two points deducted for holding in the fourth round. He had been the No. 1-ranked US amateur super heavyweight.