LAS VEGAS – In one of the bloodiest battles in modern boxing, Sebastian Fundora earned a split decision win over previously unbeaten Tim Tszyu at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Fundora, who took the call to face Tszyu less than two weeks ago, claimed Tszyu’s WBO super welterweight title and added the WBC’s vacant belt.  Fundora now joins his sister, Gabriela, the women's IBF flyweight titleholder, as an active world champion.

Judge Tim Cheatham marked it 116-112 for Tszyu, but he was overruled by the cards of David Sutherland (115-113 for Fundora) and Steve Weisfeld (116-112).

Tszyu started well, capturing the first two rounds. But at the end of the second, he leaned into Fundora's elbow, which opened up a terrible cut.

And the fight changed.

While Tszyu’s head poured blood for the remaining 10 rounds, Fundora’s nose pumped blood like a hose, and neither injury could be contained by their respective corners.

“I’ve been praying for this moment for a long time,” the new titleholder said. “I’m happy Tim Tszyu gave me the opportunity for my dream to come true. This is boxing. You’re going to get hurt. I just had to use my brain. I hope you guys could see I used my brain.

“He’s world-class for a reason. The way I won my belt, it’s an honor to make history with him,” Fundora added.

“I couldn’t see, all credit to him,” said a dejected Tszyu.

“Momentum was rolling in the first two rounds, and then boom… This is boxing. These things happen. Congratulations to Fundora.

“We’ll bounce back. I showed up and I always stand up. I’ll fight whoever, whenever. Terence Crawford, if you want a good scrap, you know who to call.”

Both Sebastian and Gabriela are trained by their father, Freddy — whom Sebastian promptly nominated for Trainer of the Year honors.

A crowd of 14,726 saw Tszyu, from Sydney, slip to 24-1 (17 KOs), while the 26-year-old Fundora is now 21-1-1 (13 KOs).

The first round was a cagey, tentative opener, but Tszyu jolted Fundora’s head back with a right hand with less than a minute remaining in the round and he repeated the success seconds later.

In the second, Tszyu looked to dispatch his right hand into Fundora’s lean stomach. And while the Australian scored with another right, neither was committing as they fenced for openings.

Tszyu then landed a brace of right hands, and then a third moments after, but as he walked back to his corner, it became clear Tszyu had been cut above his hairline.

There was a chunk of flesh missing from his head, as though someone had tried to strike a golf ball off his head and left a divot. He had been clipped by an elbow that immediately caused blood to flow.

Meanwhile, in the other corner, Fundora’s face was a mask of crimsons with his nose pumping blood.

As a result, the third round was laced with gory drama. There was blood everywhere. Tszyu was trying to dab the blood away, but it was flowing in waves and you could see more blood than skin on his face.

The fight opened up. Tszyu was having to commit more and Fundora was making him pay, prodding and probing with his southpaw jab and pumping Tszyu’s head back. Everything had changed.

It was dramatic and gripping as it unfolded. Tszyu had a lake of crimson pooling on his forehead and Fundora’s nose and mouth were haemorrhaging blood, and neither could be controlled between rounds, meaning the fighters came out for the fifth looking like extras from a horror movie.

Fundora’s legs, upper body and arms were red and both were having success. But of the increasing number of wounds on display, Tszyu’s head cut from the elbow was the one determining the course of the fight. It was hideous and gushed relentlessly.

Fundora tried to get his jab going in the sixth but got tagged by a couple of counter rights. There was the feeling that anything could happen at any moment, with either fighter being stopped or either fighter being caught by something they couldn’t see.

Tszyu’s team worked feverishly in-between rounds on the scalp cut. The Australian’s eyes were becoming puffy and he survived yet another doctor’s inspection to start the seventh.

Fundora tried to keep Tszyu at range, using his frame and natural attributes – for a change – and while there was a chance that a more patient approach would pay off, if ever there was a time to be a swirling mass of arms and legs it might have been now, against a half-blind champion who was losing a worrying amount of blood.

In Fundora’s corner, the team worked hard to stem the blood flow from his nose and he spoke through bloody lips. The sponsor's white logo on the ring canvas had turned orange.

Tszyu was trying to step in with his right hand and took a stiff left at one point, and there was no question his head wound had altered the whole trajectory of the fight.

Tszyu’s head was like a volcano, spewing hot crimson down his forehead and into his eyes. It was both gruesome yet captivating and brutally dramatic. Tszyu was blinking, dabbing at his eyes, but he upped the aggression in the 10th. Some heavy rights hit the mark, causing more blood to flow from Fundora’s face. But Tszyu paid a price for being in close and took some in reply. A right to the body seemed to make Fundora gasp, but a Tszyu left hook upstairs was answered by a Fundora left hand.

Tszyu had a rough time staying out of the way of Fundora’s jab in the 11th and both fought like everything hung on the last round. There was red liquid all over the place and the Las Vegas crowd rose to its feet for the last minute to salute the blood-stained warriors.  

So it was that The Soul Taker took his first ‘L’, and it marked the end of a week to forget for Australian boxing. Hopes had been high, but with Liam Wilson losing to Oscar Valdez yesterday, Michael Zerafa getting dropped and stopped promptly by Erislandy Lara on the Tszyu-Fundora undercard, and Tszyu losing for the first time, in his Las Vegas debut, it turned out to be a disaster.

But Fundora was never in any doubt when he took the call. He said he had been working on his boxing skills and exhibited plenty of them. We already knew about his heart.

And it appears he already has a challenger for his titles, even if that is hard on Tszyu, who deserves the chance to rematch “The Towering Inferno.”

Former unified welterweight titleholder Errol Spence entered the ring afterward and said: “It’s time to get it on. He’s got the big dog now. He’s got pretty good height, but we’re going can break him down.”

Fundora seems happy to have Spence as the next step.

“He’s one of the greats right now, so I’d like to fight him. He’s one of the pound-for-pound best right now.”