TAMPA – Liam Paro traveled halfway around the world for the biggest win of his career to date.

The unbeaten Australian southpaw survived an opening round knockdown to defeat Puerto Rico’s Yomar Alamo by split decision. Judge Michael Ross (95-94) scored in favor of Alamo, overruled by judges Alex Levin (95-94) and James O’Connor (96-93) who favored Paro in the ten-round battle of unbeaten junior welterweights Saturday evening at AMALIE Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Alamo was the clear crowd favorite, based out of Puerto Rico but who has spent his past six fights in Boricua-friendly Kissimmee, roughly two hours from Tampa. The unbeaten rising contender played to the crowd support, jumping out to an early lead with the bout’s first knockdown. It came courtesy of a counter left-right late in round one as Paro left himself open following a right hook that never came close to finding its target.

Paro recovered from the debacle to take the lead in round two. The Australian southpaw—fighting in the U.S. for the first time—worked his right jab while looking to force an aggressive pace. Alamo mostly boxed from the outside, content to play the role of counterpuncher though it made for tepid action following the hot start.

A straight left hand by Paro had Alamo on the defensive late in round four. The punch wasn’t a game changer, though enough to corner the unbeaten Puerto Rican and turn the tide in his favor.

Alamo went out of character and took the lead in round five. Paro circled to his left as Alamo came forward in a straight line, though unable to land anything of consequence. The same trend carried over into round six where Paro once again found himself on the canvas, though correctly ruled a slip.

Paro resumed his more familiar role of aggressor in round seven, working a purposeful jab as Alamo pawed with his left hand. Alamo attempted to open his offense late in the round, only for Paro to make him pay with a straight left hand that landed clean.

The steady but slow pace in round eight failed to maintain the crowd’s interest, their attention turning to a fracas in the stands as neither fighter made an impact. Paro did his best to change that in round nine, shooting his jab in effort to work his way inside. Alamo made him pay midway through the round, connecting with a straight right hand as Paro stood directly in front of him. Paro landed a left hand inside the final thirty seconds, though Alamo shook off the blow.

The tenth and final round failed to see either fighter create enough separation to sway the crowd, though Alamo still had his regional support as suggested by chants of “Puerto Rico.” It wasn’t enough to create the illusion that he was convincingly winning rounds as he falls to 20-1-1 (12KOs).

Paro improves to 22-0 (13KOs), with the win likely to move him within one more fight of challenging for the WBO junior welterweight title. The sense is that current undisputed champion Josh Taylor will start vacating belts following his February 26 title defense versus England’s Jack Catterall, with fighters such as Paro hoping to pick up the pieces in the aftermath.

Alamo-Paro opened a four-fight Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast. Headlining the event, Jake Paul (4-0, 3KOs) meets Tyron Woodley (0-1) in a scheduled eight-round rematch to their August 29 clash, won by Paul via split decision.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox