Reymart “Assassin” Gaballo of Gen. Santos City. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Reymart Gaballo stunned the global boxing community on Sunday after taking a split decision win over Puerto Rican opponent Emmanuel Rodriguez to take the interim World Boxing Council bantamweight championship at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Gaballo, who stepped in for Nonito Donaire after the latter tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019, survived two near knockdowns from Rodriguez as he banked on his aggression to eke out the close victory.

After a slow-paced first round, Gaballo got things going in Rounds 2 and 3 with his aggressive style of play, eventually opening a gash on Rodriguez's nose bridge.

Rodriguez, however, found an opening for his right hook in the fourth round that nearly sent Gaballo to the canvas.

Gaballo somehow bounced back in the middle rounds by continuing on his attack, eventually landing a right hook on Rodriguez in Round 8.

However, Rodriguez, using his range to his advantage, jabbed Gaballo nearly to the floor anew in Round 10.

It was a game of ring generalship in the championship rounds as both fighters used their advantages to the full extent in the final six minutes.

David Sutherland had it 118-110 for Rodriguez, but Don Trella scored 116-112 and John McKaie tallied 115-113 in favor of Gaballo to the shock of even some Filipino fans.

However, Gaballo believes: "the fight was too close, but I controlled the fight."

Reacting to the outcome, Rodriguez thought he should have won.

"Realistically, he only won two or three rounds. He even knows that he lost this fight. Everybody knows I won the fight. This will be appealed because this is bad for boxing," he said. (PNA)