Johannesburg - Hekkie Budler absorbed everything the big-punching Florante Condes could throw at him to retain his IBO strawweight title on points at Emperors Palace, in Kempton Park, on Saturday night.
Budler's superior movement and unrelenting work rate earned him the decision after 12 gruelling rounds, with the 32-year-old Philippines veteran performing above expectations in what was only his second fight in the past two years.
The judges gave the fight to Budler by varying 116-112, 118-110 and 115-113 margins.
A former IBF champion, injuries have marred Condes' career and he has now lost four of his last seven bouts.
But the Philippines battler fought with great resolution in an absorbing bout and always threatened Budler with thunderous, but often off-target and generally too few punches.
Condes started with a flourish as Budler made a tentative start, with the Philippines fighter dominating the opening round.
Probably through his ring rustiness, Condes was unable to maintain his momentum and Budler took control of the fight in the middle rounds.
Condes, however, showed his fighting spirit by coming back strongly in the closing rounds.
Budler's admirable ability to absorb punishment assured that he warded off serious trouble, but he was treated a little kindly by the referee after wrestling Condes to the canvas like a rugby player on two occasions and then flooring his opponent with a crunching low blow in the eighth round.
The fight was halted for five minutes before the shaken Condes recovered and he enjoyed some of his most impressive moments afterwards.
Earlier, on the Last Man Standing bill by Golden Gloves Promotions, Thabiso "The Rock" Mchunu and Danie Venter qualified for the November final of the innovative eight-man cruiserweight contest by stopping Flo Simba and Zack Mwekassa respectively.
Mchunu's repeat first-round tko of Simba - the fourth time in five fights he has been halted - might well have heralded the end of the career of the likeable, young fighter who was prematurely touted as a future world champion.
The first time Simba fought Mchunu in the Last Man Standing contest the referee stopped the fight in the first round to save him further punishment.
Simba's handlers protested the fight had been prematurely stopped, but it was very much the same story over again - confirming the remark of Mchunu's trainer, Shaun Smith, ahead of the fight that "it's a mismatch, not a rematch".
The big difference in the fight between thunderous punchers Venter and Mwekassa was that the more experienced and calculating Venter was able to absorb punishment, while his opponent was shaken and wobbly after receiving big blows.
A stunning Venter left hook finished the job in the fourth round when the referee stopped the fight, with Mwekassa pole-axed on the canvas and having no chance of getting back on his feet.
In a WBC junior-international lightweight fight, Sipho Taliwe retained his title with a points victory over former IBF champion Mzonke Fana.