LAS VEGAS — Unbeaten super middleweight J'Leon Love rose from a fifth-round knockdown to earn a unanimous decision over former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban on Saturday's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana undercard at the MGM Grand on Showtime Pay Per View.
Althoulgh Love (18-0, 10 knockouts) failed to earn his third straight stoppage win against Periban (20-2-1, 13 KOs), he recovered enough to impress judges David Sunderland, Glenn Trowbridge and Lisa Giampa, whose scores were 95-93, 96-93, and, 97-92, all in his favor.
"He was tough dude, it was a tough fight," said Love. "He hit me with a good shot, so I knew that it was smart to take that knee in the fifth round. He was being aggressive."
Love had last been in the ring for a 10th-round knockout of Vladine Biosse in February that followed his sixth-round stoppage of Lujan Simon in December. In his previous two fights, the 29-year-old Periban had battled to a draw with Love's Mayweather Promotions' stablemate Badou Jack in September that followed a majority decision loss to Sakio Bika in a failed bid to earn the WBA belt last June.
Having been largely out-boxed over the first three rounds, Periban began to catch up to Love in the fourth and then twice battered him along the ropes in the fifth, the second time, hammering Love until he took a knee along the ropes.
Still, Periban nailed Love with at least four more shots, at least one of them landing behind the head, before referee Jay Nady pushed Periban off with so much force that Periban stumbled to the canvas himself.
Love beat the count and survived into the sixth, where he turned the tables, somewhat, and had Periban — badly cut over the left eye — fighting in retreat thanks to a solid jab and a body attack. Appearing to be gassed in the seventh, Periban took more punishment, resulting in a bloody nose to accompany the crimson running from over the eye.
Love controlled the action in the eighth, ninth and 10th with his jab and movement, preferring to play it safe rather than engage and trade.
"In the fifth round, I thought the referee had called off the fight. The referee pushed me, and that's how I fell," said Periban. "I want to review the film, and if it proves what I am saying, then I'm going to protest. We have the expectations that our promoter, Golden Boy, will back us up."
Last May, Love appeared to be at a crossroads when he rose from a sixth-round knockdown to win an unpopular split-decision victory over 160-pound rival Gabriel Rosado only to have it become a no-decision after Love failed his post-fight drug examination.
To make matters worse, the attention came on the undercard of the Showtime Pay Per View-televised RING and WBC welterweight championship fight during which Love's promoter, Mayweather, unanimously decisioned Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Also on Saturday's undercard, middleweight Anthony Ogogo (6-0, 3 KOs), a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist form Great Britain, made his Las Vegas debut with a third-round technical knockout over Jonuel Tapia (8-5-1, 5 KOs) when Nady stepped in to wave an end to the fight at the 46-second mark.
Cruiserweight Adrew Tabiti (6-0, 6 KOs) came up with a technical knockout at 2:11 of the fourth round over John Shipman (3-2, 2 KOs), and super middleweight Ronald Gavril (9-0, 7 KOs) won by fourth-round stoppage, as well, over Tyrell Hendrix (10-4-2, 3 KOs) at 1:58.
In the evening's first fight, welterweight Ladarius Miller (2-0, 1 KO) scored a third-round knockout over Richard Colas (1-3, 1 KO), and in the second, super middleweight Lanell Bellows (7-1-1, 6 KOs) stopped Thomas Gifford (2-2-1, 1 KO) in 67 seconds, again, on Nady's call.
Welterweight Ashley Theophane (35-6-1, 11 KOs) dropped his man in the second round and pounded him along the ropes in the fourth before referee Kenny Bayless stepped in at the 2:44 mark for a technical knockout over Angino Perez (15-5, 13 KOs).