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MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Super middleweights Brandon Gonzales, the heavy underdog who had never been in a scheduled 10-round fight, and South African contender Thomas Oosthuizen fought to a 10-round split draw Saturday night at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Judge Peter Harry had it a generous 98-92 for Gonzales, judge Glenn Feldman scored it 96-94 for Oosthuizen and Clark Sammartino had it 95-95. ESPN.com had it for Gonzales, 96-94.
The fight was the co-feature of the card headlined by middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin's defense against Matthew Macklin.
"I thought I won the fight," Oosthuizen said. "I started off sluggishly, and it was hard to time his rhythm. But once I got going, I thought I won the second half of the fight. I thought I won, but I would give him an immediate rematch if he wanted it. It was a matter of starting sluggishly. Once I got past my sluggish start, I thought I won the fight going away."
Gonzales also thought he won.
"I absolutely won the fight," he said. "I landed the harder shots and outboxed him. I did everything I had to do. Unfortunately, the judges didn't think so."
Gonzales (17-0-1, 10 KOs), 29, of Sacramento, Calif., who is in the same camp as super middleweight champion Andre Ward (who was ringside calling the fight as part of HBO's broadcast team) and shares trainer Virgil Hunter with him, took it to Oosthuizen from the outset but eventually slowed down. Early on, he was backing up the taller Oosthuizen and firing accurate combinations.
At the end of the third round, Gonzales cracked him with a solid three-punch combination that backed him into the ropes as the round ended.
Oosthuizen (21-0-2, 13 KOs), 25, of South Africa, perhaps sensing some urgency and the fight slipping away from him, picked up the pace in the sixth round to outland Gonzales for the first time in the bout, 20-11, according to CompuBox statistics.
Oosthuizen, the son of 1980s South African junior middleweight and middleweight national champion Charles Oosthuizen, came on strong in the second half of the fight and had one of his best rounds in the 10th, landing several solid uppercuts to the body and tagging Gonzales to the head.
For the fight, Gonzales landed 164 of 545 punches (30 percent), while Oosthuizen landed 160 of 478 (33 percent).
Junior middleweight Willie Nelson, hoping to make his mark in a loaded weight class, barely survived a much-tougher-than-expected battle with Luciano Cuello to win a unanimous decision in a hard 10-round bout. But for all the noise coming from the Nelson camp -- especially promoter Lou DiBella -- about how Nelson is the future of the 154-pound division, he hardly looked like a future titleholder.
He's an imposing physical specimen, a ripped 6-foot-4 with an 81-inch reach -- freakish dimensions for a junior middleweight. But although he outpointed Cuello fair and square on scores of 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94, he was in deep trouble late in the fight.
Nelson looked like a light heavyweight in the ring and was in command early against his shorter opponent. He unleashed numerous long right hands and left hooks in the opening round, landing 39 of 81 punches.
But Nelson couldn't keep up the dominance. In the third round, a clear accidental head-butt opened a cut in the corner of Nelson's right eye. Although Cuello had success in the round, Nelson was bothered by the cut, as he dabbed at it repeatedly.
Nelson was then cut over his other eye later in the bout.
"He's tougher than I thought, but I think I won convincingly," said Nelson, who is trained by Jack Loew, who trained Kelly Pavlik to the middleweight championship. "The cuts bothered me, but I fought through it. I want to fight all the top 154-pound fighters, and this is another step in that direction."
Cuello (32-3, 16 KOs), 29, of Argentina, had a big seventh round, nailing Nelson with multiple right hands to the side of the head that hurt and wobbled Nelson, who was backed into a corner. By the time the round was over, Nelson's left eye was swelling.
Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Cleveland, was in all kinds of trouble in the 10th round as Cuello landed right hands that hurt Nelson, backed him up and had him grabbing on for dear life as he tried to run out the clock. Another shot clearly hurt Nelson's left eye, which he squeezed closed for much of the final round as he desperately tried to tie Cuello up.
"I wanted a good fight, and we got a good fight," DiBella said. "I'm not disappointed [in Nelson], but he could have controlled the whole fight by jabbing more."
Cuello's six-fight wining streak came to an end. He hadn't lost since a 2010 sixth-round knockout to Canelo Alvarez, who went on to win a junior middleweight world title. Cuello's only other loss was by debatable 10-round decision to future middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009.
• Junior middleweight Danny O'Connor (21-1, 7 KOs) of Framingham, Mass., with a vocal cheering section chanting for him throughout the fight, won a spirited eight-round unanimous decision against Hector Munoz (21-10-1, 14 KOs), an Albuquerque, N.M., fighter who has faced numerous contenders and prospects, including Mike Jones, Shawn Porter, Antonin Decarie and Brad Solomon.
O'Connor, a career junior welterweight who has a few bouts at welterweight, fought at a career-heavy 152 pounds and traded leather with Munoz throughout the fight but won 79-73 on all three scorecards. Munoz landed some hard right hands, including in the fourth round, swelling O'Connor's left eye, but the outcome wasn't in doubt. Munoz dropped to 3-10 in his past 13 bouts.
• Featherweight Luis Rosa (14-0, 6 KOs), a 22-year-old prospect from Puerto Rico who lives in New Haven, Conn., calls himself "The KO King." Although he didn't live up to his nickname, going the eight-round distance with Jose Angel Beranza (36-27-2, 28 KOs) of Mexico, Rosa dominated the journeyman, winning by scores of 79-72 on all three scorecards. After the fight, DiBella called for a fight between Rosa and Top Rank prospect Jesse Magdaleno.
• In the opening bout of the card, Washington, D.C., welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (16-0, 9 KOs), who is just 19 and a college student, dominated Ben Ankrah (15-15, 6 KOs) of Chicago en route to a near-shutout decision in their six-round bout. Hernandez-Harrison, quicker and busier, was the obvious winner against the strong but crude Ankrah. Two judges scored it a 60-54 shutout, while the third judge had it 59-55. Hernandez-Harrison promoter Jeff Fried said the fighter will be back Aug. 23 in a scheduled eight-rounder at Dover Downs in Dover, Del.