James Toney won Saturday even though he fell out of the ring.
By claiming an unimpressive, split-decision victory over heavyweight Fres Oquendo in the manner he did at Morongo Resort and Casino, however, Toney may also have fallen off the radar of heavyweight champions looking for their next opponent.
The 40-year-old Toney, benefiting from a one-point deduction against Oquendo for punching behind the head in the eighth round, faded in the late rounds but was still given the decision by judges David Mendoza (115-112) and Marty Denkin (114-113) while judge Tony Crebs favored Oquendo 116-111.
All three judges gave Toney the eighth, and the extra point made it a 10-8 advantage, especially crucial on Denkin's card.
Toney defended the decision. "I was more aggressive all night."
The punch numbers told a different story. Oquendo threw 740 punches to Toney's 491 and landed 222 to Toney's 154, according to CompuBox, and Oquendo pointed to the stat sheet in disbelief.
"These people saw it: I clearly threw and landed more punches," Oquendo said. "I had him hurt, and I continued to press him in the later rounds. I hurt him to the body and the head in the championship rounds."
Oquendo (29-5) belted Toney (71-6-3) with a big right to the side of the head to start the 12th, and the former three-division world champion continued a late slowdown, offering only a few jabs with Oquendo getting the best of a late exchange.
Before the bout, Toney's promoter Dan Goossen said his San Fernando Valley fighter needed an attention-getting victory, "not just a win," to force a future fight against one of the world heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali.
This fight was no head-turner, and the likely "SportsCenter" highlight was the 230-pound Toney losing his footing while in a fourth-round clench with Oquendo and barreling under the bottom ring rope toward the laps of the judges. Oquendo was warned by referee Dr. Lou Moret about holding.
Moret also warned Oquendo after a punch to the back of Toney's head in the seventh. When it happened again during an eighth-round exchange, Oquendo suffered the deduction.
Toney's best moments came when his elusive head-slipping, counter-punching mastery resulted in a few smooth scoring blows -- until the late rounds.
"I was the aggressor, I brought the heat to him," Toney said. "The guy was hugging, I couldn't move. It was an ugly fight and I won. You aren't going to win holding and running."
Goossen agreed. "Fighting Oquendo -- the hugging, the holding, it's awkward -- it's hard to be sensational," he said.
Earlier, East Los Angeles' Olympian Shawn Estrada (2-0) recorded his second first-round knockout in two weeks when he battered Shaun Spaid with 13 unanswered punches.
Spaid (3-3) was knocked down in less than 15 seconds and referee Moret stopped the bout 43 seconds into the first round after another Estrada flurry in the middleweight contest.
Super-middleweight Andre Ward of Oakland improved to 17-0 with a third-round TKO of Mexico's Esteban Camou (23-5).
Ward shifted to a southpaw stance in the third round and pummeled Camou with combinations to the head.
Wladimir Klitschko defended his IBF heavyweight crown by stopping Hasim Rahman in the seventh round at Mannheim, Germany. . . . WBO light-welterweight champion Kendall Holt scored a split decision over Demetrius Hopkins at Atlantic City, N.J.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.