Benigno 'Tony' Aguilar rode a late surge to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

An entertaining clash of unbeaten lightweights saw Aguilar outhustle Alexander Rios in a well-earned, split decision victory. Brian Garry scored 58-55 for Aguilar, while Lisa Giampa had it 57-56 for Rios. Steve Weisfeld agreed with Giampa and scored 57-56 to deliver the narrow win for Aguilar in their DAZN-aired preliminary bout Friday evening at Caribe Royale in Orlando.  

Rios was the clear crowd favorite in the Boricua-heavy city. The 22-year old from Saint Cloud, Florida by way of Bayamon, Puerto Rico played to his fans, complete with a panda-themed ring entrance and proved to be just as entertaining in the ring.

Aguilar was able to jump out to a strong start, however, as he beat Rios to the punch in a high-octane opening round. Rios settled down and used a concentrated body attack in his best effort to wear down Aguilar, a proud Mexican-American from Crescent City, Florida. It worked to the point of advancing on the cards through four rounds and with a victory well in sight.

Aguilar changed all of that in a big way in round five.

Rios consistently landed the more telling blows, particularly to the body. However, it was the right hand of Aguilar that produced the most damage. One crashed home on the chin of Rios, who was cracked by a follow-up left hook which had him out on his feet. Two more right hands by Aguilar produced the bout’s lone knockdown.

To his credit, Rios came storming back in his best effort to avoid a crucial 10-8 round. The Florida-based Boricua landed with left hooks and right hands to the body, at one point with Aguilar slipping to the canvas though it was ruled a slip. Aguilar crashed home a right hand just before the bell, which left Rios slightly dazed as he walked to his corner.

Rios gained control of the action in the sixth and final round. Aguilar appeared to realize that his best shot came and went for a knockout ending, as he threw for volume rather than power. Rios planted his feet and landed upstairs and to the body but Aguilar had an answer every time and outlanded his foe in the final round to sway two of the three judges by night’s end.

Aguilar (11-0, 4KOs) confirmed that he will return on the undercard of a December 15 DAZN show featuring Jake Paul, his promoter and co-founder of Most Valuable Promotions who will face a yet-to-be-named opponent.

Headlining Friday’s card, Amanda Serrano (45-2-1, 30KOs) defends her unified lineal, WBA, IBF and WBO featherweight championship versus Brazil’s interim WBO titleholder Danila Ramos (12-2, 1KOs). Their main event is scheduled for twelve, three-minute rounds.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox