Estelle Mossely retained her IBO lightweight title with a split decision victory over Yanina del Carmen Lescano after an absorbing contest in Dubai.
Mossely and Lescano were making history by clashing in the first ever female world title fight to be held in the Middle East – and the fight lived up to expectations.
At the end of 10 close and highly competitive rounds, the judges were split but two of the officials gave the nod to France’s Mossely, with scores of 96-94 and 97-93, while the other gave it to Lescano with a score of 96-94.
The 29-year-old – an Olympic gold medallist from 2016 – admits she will need at least two more fights before she is ready for a unification contest with either Katie Taylor or Amanda Serrano, who meet next month in New York.
But Mossely’s third defence of her lightweight title keeps alive hopes of a huge showdown later in the year.
Mossely has also made no secret of her desire to return to the amateur ranks to compete in May’s World Amateur Championships before coming back to the professional side of the sport.
“It was a hard fight, I had not fought in more than a year and she was very tough,” Mossely, now 10-0, said after her win.
“I must have two or three more hard fights to be ready for a unification bout with either Taylor or Serrano.”
Argentina’s Lescano, 26, was bitterly disappointed with the judges’ decision and was adamant she had done enough to take the IBO strap from Mossely, but two of the ringside judges thought otherwise.