Richardson Hitchins ekes out decision over determined Gustavo Lemos

Richardson Hitchins remained unbeaten but struggled in the process.

The 140-pound contender, who is hoping to get big fights, had to dig deep to defeat relative unknown Gustavo Lemos by a unanimous, but tight decision Saturday in Las Vegas.

Hitchins (18-0, 7 KOs) won by scores of 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113, with only the later two tallies reflecting what happened in the ring.

The winner boxed well, fighting effectively behind his jab for most of the fight. However, Lemos (29-1, 19 KOs) used constant pressure to force Hitchins to engage with him and often got the better of the action in an entertaining scrap.

The fighters were almost inseparable in terms of CompuBox stats, with Hitchins outlanding Lemos by only 11 punches overall, 172-161.

However, Hitchins had a significant advantage in jabs landed (98-22) while Lemos had a big edge in power shots that connected (139-74). Fighters are typically rewarded more for the latter than the former.

Still, one judge, Tim Cheatham, somehow had Hitchins winning 117-111, nine rounds to three. The 115-113 scores made sense.

The victory makes the 26-year-old from Brooklyn the mandatory challenger for the IBF 140-pound title. Champion Subriel Matias is scheduled to defend his belt against Liam Paro on June 15 in Puerto Rico, meaning Hitchins could get the winner.

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Lemos, who has a victory over Lee Selby but never fought outside his native Argentina, proved with his strong performance that he’s among the better 140-pounders.

He came up short on the scorecards but probably earned at least one more significant fight.

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie