Boxing has struck again. Let the controversy begin.

In a tight, well-matched junior welterweight scrap, Richardson Hitchins won a unanimous but debatable decision over Gustavo Lemos on Saturday at Fontainebleau Las Vegas.

Hitchins won by scores of 117-111 and 115-113 (twice) in the main event of a DAZN-streamed card, but the final outcome – and especially the outlier score – failed to reflect the fight narrative.

The fight was a close, compelling, boxer-versus-puncher affair. And while finding enough rounds to award Hitchins a narrow win is reasonable, Tim Cheatham’s 117-111 card will likely spark outrage. (If the boxing gods were just, it would also lead to a Lemos rematch.)

Hitchins (18-0, 7 KOs), a 26-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, performed well, peppering Lemos with sharp right-hand counters and power jabs. But it was his opponent who made this fight the entertaining back-and-forth that it was. 

Lemos (29-1, 19 KOs), a 28-year-old Argentinean, bulled forward from the opening bell, making his presence known in the first round. He landed a hard overhand right in addition to some body shots. The second saw another big right hand send Hitchins into the ropes. Hitchins was clinching quickly and often, his lateral movement not saving him from getting backed into a corner.

But Hitchins showed his heart and chin as the fight progressed. He had more success in the third round. Lemos slowed down, no longer resembling a Marcos Maidana-like whirlwind quite so much, and Hitchins found the target with his counters.

In the fourth, Hitchins’ powerful jab landed with regularity. Lemos struggled to get inside, and when he did, Hitchins tied him up quickly. Lemos was busier, but by a shrinking margin – and Hitchins landed his punches with more accuracy.

Still, Lemos had landed nearly twice as many power punches as Hitchins through five and a half rounds. The occasional overhand right or sharp body shot continued to land on Hitchins even as the undefeated New Yorker started to take over the fight.

Then, in Round 8, Lemos rocked Hitchins with a huge left-right combination. Hitchins held on, his clinches motivated by survival instincts rather than a calculated desire to avoid letting Lemos whack away on the inside.

But he survived the assault, and for a few seconds played speed bag with Lemos’ weary head in the middle of the round.

The eighth seemed to deflate Hitchins. He had moments, continuing to land his jab with regularity and some hard right hands in the 10th, but Lemos looked more energetic in the final third of the fight. Hitchins was in retreat, standing and trading in spots, but at least as often tying up or skipping away. 

In the final seconds of the fight, Lemos stood and pounded his own body with his gloves, one last desperate bid to draw Hitchins into a firefight. Hitchins didn’t bite, and Lemos did not land another punch.