LAS VEGAS — Challenger Carlos Molina defeated hometown favorite Ishe Smith by split decision to win Smith's IBF super welterweight title on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight Saturday night.
Smith (25-6, 11 KOs), who fights under the Mayweather Promotions banner, struggled much of the night.
Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) has been victimized by questionable scoring in the past but finally won the title he has been seeking his entire career.
Molina scored early with overhand rights and put Smith into a defensive mode. Smith finally got on track in the middle rounds and landed more total punches than Molina.
The only judge to score it for the Smith, a Las Vegas native, was Adalaide Byrd, also from Las Vegas.
Smith was stunned by the decision.
"He barely landed any punches, and they gave him a title?" Smith said. "Wow!"
Molina said he wanted the winner of Mayweather-Alvarez.
"I'm happy about my win (Saturday), but I'm never happy or satisfied by my performance in the ring," he said. "I always feel I can do more, and I want the winner of the (main event) fight (Saturday). It makes sense."
Pablo Cesar Cano won a split decision against veteran Ashley Theophane in a 10-round welterweight bout on the undercard.
Cano (27-3-1, 20 KOs) outworked Theophane (33-6-1, 5 KOs) early, hurting him with hard lefts and rights, and bloodying his nose. But every time he seemed to have Theophane on the ropes, Theophane worked his way back in the fight.
"I'm happy with my victory," Cano said. "I'm only sorry I couldn't knock him out."
Theophane, also a Mayweather Promotions fighter, won 96-94 on the scorecard of one judge, which drew boos from the crowd.
"I thought I did enough to win," Theophane said. "It was a close fight, a split decision. It's one of those things, If I had two more rounds, I definitely would have won."
Later on the undercard, light-welterweight champion Danny Garcia faced Lucas Matthysse.
For the main bout, which didn't start until after midnight in the East, Alvarez weighed 165 and Mayweather 150 on the fight night scale.