Katie Taylor controversially edged a war with Delfine Persoon by a majority decision to become the women’s undisputed world lightweight champion in only her 14th pro fight.
Taylor was given the fight of her life by Persoon and many at ringside felt the Belgian had done enough to win as the Irishwoman hung on at the end.
But judges Allen Nace and John Poturaj gave her this slugfest 96-94, while Don Trella scored it a draw.
Taylor, 32, claimed Persoon’s WBC title and won the Ring magazine belt to add to her WBA, IBF and WBO crowns and the Belgian left the ring in tears.
The unbeaten Taylor, who is now 14-0, was also awarded the Ring magazine belt to recognise her status as the division’s No 1.
She said: “I definitely felt like I had done enough, especially early on. I stood there and fought too much and I should have been more disciplined but I showed great heart.
“I definitely did enough to win, it was a very, very close fight. She was a great, great champion.”
Taylor began typically aggressively and pushed Persoon back as she came forward, but she also took a few rights from the Belgian.
Persoon was easily Taylor’s toughest pro opponent, having reeled off 33 straight wins, and she countered well in the second round.
Unlike some of Taylor’s previous opponents, she was not intimidated by the Irishwoman and she kept advancing when she was hit by a stinging right by the unified champion in the fourth.
The action was fast and furious and Taylor beckoned Persoon forward in the fifth after a vicious exchange between the pair on the ropes.
Both fighters’ faces were marked in a sign of this all-mighty scrap, yet neither eased off the gas.
Taylor began to outland Persoon in the seventh, but her opponent refused to back off and had some success at the end of the round. Taylor looked tired at the end of the eighth and fell over in the ninth, but still she dug deep to keep going.
Taylor was almost out on her feet in the 10th, staggering briefly after Persoon landed, and by the end she was fighting on sheer instinct.
She hung on and the judges gave her the verdict – just – to crown her the undisputed women’s lightweight champion of the world.