It took 35 rounds spread over three fights, waged on three continents.
But finally, after a frustrating draw, a bitter technical knockout and five title defenses, Gilberto Roman of Mexicali defeated his longtime nemesis, Santos Laciar of Cordoba, Argentina, Tuesday night at the Forum with a unanimous 12-round decision before a crowd of 5,461.
Referee Dick Young scored it 117-111, Vince Delgado, 118-110, and Terry Smith, 117-112.
With the victory, Roman (53-4-1, 33 knockouts) retained his World Boxing Council super-flyweight championship.
"I thought I made the perfect fight for this opponent," Roman, who weighed in at 114 3/4 pounds, said through an interpreter. "Santos Laciar is a very dangerous fighter, but I fought the smarter fight."
If so, he's a slow learner.
Roman originally won the title in 1986 with a 12-round decision over Jiro Watanabe.
After two successful defenses, Roman met Laciar for the first time in Cordoba and the pair fought to a draw.
Roman then successfully defended his title three more times before meeting Laciar in a rematch in Reims, France in May of 1987. This time, Laciar won, the fight stopped in the 11th round because of cuts.
Laciar lost the title three months later to Sugar Baby Rojas, who subsequently lost to Roman.
Roman defended the championship four times before signing for the third match with Laciar III.
This fight was supposed to have been held at the end of July, but was postponed when Roman injured his left hand.
There wasn't anything wrong with Roman's left on Tuesday night. Nor his right. Staying away from his 114 1/2-pound opponent, Roman scored enough points to breeze through the final rounds.
There were no official knockdowns, although it appeared that Roman put Laciar down with a short right-left combination in the second round. Referee Rudy Ortega ruled it a slip.
"I thought it was a knockdown," Roman said, "but the referee said no. It didn't matter. The main purpose was to win."
Laciar wasn't convinced Roman had done that.
"It was the same old Roman," said Laciar, whose record dropped to 77-9-11. "I think I dominated the fight. I ran all over the ring and beat him to the punch."
In a preliminary fight, Kenny Baysmore (23-2-2, 20 knockouts) of Washington, D.C., and Rogelio Lopez (17-8-2, 10 knockouts) of Dallas fought to a technical draw.
The bout, scheduled for 10 rounds, was stopped in the second when Lopez suffered a cut left eye from an accidental head butt. Baysmore was ahead on all three scorecards, but Lopez, being the recipient of the head butt, could not be declared the loser.
This was a semifinal match of a $225,000 super-featherweight Forum tournament. Since Baysmore was ahead on points, he will advance in the tournament.