LAS VEGAS -- Jessie Vargas of Las Vegas certainly didn't have his best night, but he was good enough in the eyes of the judges to outpoint Russian southpaw Khabib Allakhverdiev to win a junior welterweight world title on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The fight was one of the featured bouts on the undercard of the rematch between welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and former titleholder Manny Pacquiao.
Perhaps the judges were swayed by the considerable damage on Allakhverdiev's face as he was cut and swollen around both eyes. They had it for Vargas 117-111, 115-113, 115-113. ESPN.com had it 115-113 for Allakhverdiev.
"I thought I should have been busier earlier in the fight and I got stronger and I thought I took control midway through the fight," said Vargas, 24, who dropped down from welterweight for the fight. "This was my first 12-round fight. I worked hard for three months in the Top Rank gym. This fight, this win will make me an even better fighter."
Said Allakhverdiev, "I want a rematch and I want it right away. I won that fight and I want the rematch right away."
Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs) raised swelling under Allakhverdiev's right eye in the third round of a nip-and-tuck fight. As the fight went on, Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9 KOs), 31, began to pick up the pace and was attacking Vargas to the body and head with both hands.
Vargas worked well with his jab, snapping Allakhverdiev's head back in an active seventh round of a fight that was difficult to score.
"We knew the left jab would cause a lot of damage which it did," said Ismael Salas, Vargas' trainer, who was working with him for the first time.
An accidental head-butt in the eighth round popped open a cut over Allakhverdiev's right eye and it was bad enough for referee Tony Weeks to call timeout in order have the ringside doctor examine it. It was a good round for Vargas, who rocked Allakhverdiev with an uppercut.
Allakhverdiev's cut was getting worse and in the ninth round Weeks had the doctor examine it for a second time, but he was allowed to continue. He was also cut over the left eye. Allakhverdiev appeared to clinch the win with a big 12th round in which Vargas did very little.
Allakhverdiev was making his second title defense in his first fight since signing with Top Rank last year. Allakhverdiev held a secondary belt in the 140-pound division as Danny Garcia is the organization's top titleholder.
Lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs), likely one fight away from a second shot at a world title, easily outpointed Arash Usmanee (20-2-1, 10 KOs).
With the victory, Beltran's next fight probably will be a summer shot against newly crowned titleholder Terence Crawford, who outpointed Ricky Burns on March 1 to win the belt, one fight after Beltran was given a highly controversial draw against Burns in a fight most thought Beltran won.
Beltran, 32, who is from Mexico and lives in Los Angeles, was clearly the stronger puncher and took it to Usmanee, 32, a native of Afghanistan fighting out of Montreal, for most of the fight. When Usmanee did connect he did not seem to have much steam on his punches.
In the end, the judges had it for Beltran by scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111.