Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton survived an early wobble to retain his IBF world super-bantamweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in Texas.
The 28-year-old from Belfast was given the bout after 12 rounds in El Paso, with two judges scoring 116-108 in his favour while the third scored it 115-109.
But Frampton, who claimed the belt from Kiko Martinez in September before defending it against Chris Avalos in February, was put on his knees twice and given a standing eight count in the first round.
He struggled to deal with Gonzalez’s body blows until the fourth round, where he produced cleaner work and began to protect himself against the Mexican’s swinging left hook.
Frampton slowed down the pace of the fight as he took control ahead of the final rounds and an increasingly shaky Gonzalez would concede a valuable point for a low blow in the 11th.
The Northern Irishman knocked his opponent’s head back with a flurry of jabs during the final round and his first victory on American turf was soon confirmed by the judges’ scorecards.
Referring back to his first-round scare, Frampton told ITV: “I was just shocked at what happened – that’s never happened before.
“My legs went stiff and I couldn’t use my toes for a while, but it was a flash knockdown, I came back and I won.
“The performance wasn’t great and I really wanted another knockout but I’ll take the win.”