By Crisdenmar Dela Cruz

Unheralded Mexican boxer Daniel "Cejitas" Valladares pulled off one of the biggest triumphs in his boxing career, outpointing Filipino prizefighter Rene Mark "Mighty Mouse" Cuarto via split decision in front of his hometown fans at Monterey, Mexico, Saturday.

PHOTO: Boxing Scene

Twenty-seven-year-old Valladares (26-3-1, 15 KO's) pressured Cuarto (20-3-2, 11 KO's) in 12 grueling rounds, survived an arduous turnaround in the eighth, and finished with a strong flurry to earn the nod of two judges.

Judges scored the bout 113-114, 116-112, 116-112, giving the Mexican boxer the IBF World Minimum belt, the first world championship of his professional career.

The challenger's dangerous jab combinations troubled the pride of Zamboanga Del Norte in the opening round as they seized each other up.

Cuarto showed remarkable heart and skill in the succeeding rounds, using his movement to evade the jab combination of the Mexican fighter while also landing his punches.

The fight turned bloody in the fourth round when an unintentional clash of heads resulted in the challenger opening up a wide gash on the right eyebrow.

Valladares changed his style as the Mexican pride opened the fifth round on an aggressive note, unloading solid punches.

While the former champion managed to block or evade most of Cejitas' shots, Valladares did land a one-two punch that caught the Filipino boxer's attention late in that round.

But the "Mighty Mouse" took over in the eight as he caught Valladares flush to his head and floored the Mexican, although referee Wes Milton did not award a knockdown despite the clean right hook. 

In a fight with a little bit of everything, the Filipino pride suffered a crucial point deduction in the 10th after several warnings for the tape of his gloves to be fixed, which erased his momentum and composure in the final rounds.

Following Cuarto's defeat, WBC Featherweight title holder Mark "Magnifico" Magsayo becomes the lone Filipino world champion, defending his title on July 9 against Mexico's unbeaten former world champion Rey Vargas in San Antonio, Texas.

Edited by Quian Vencel Galut