Blood poured from the left ear of Stephen Smith (25-4, 15 KOs).

The nasty laceration was caused by an accidental head clash, leading to the referee stopping the bout in Round 9 and giving Francisco Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) a technical decision on the Orlando Salido-Mikey Roman undercard at Mandalay Bay on Saturday.

At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had the bout 89-82, 88-83 and 88-83 in favor of Vargas. The former WBC super featherweight world champion was coming off his first career loss after losing his title to Miguel Berchelt in January.

Both fighters came out firing in the first round. Vargas used his jab well and landed solid 1-2 combinations but Smith was game to sit there and exchange.

The fight remained active throughout but Smith was eating a lot of hard shots and holding too much. Smith landed good body shots while Vargas’ punches started to do damage in the eighth.

Vargas wasn’t spectacular compared to his last three fights, which were against Berchelt, Orlando Salido and Takashi Miura but he outboxed Smith.

This was Vargas first fight after an 11-month layoff and he looked anything but rusty as he beat Smith to the punch numerous times.

Vargas has a chance at redemption if he decides to fight Berchelt in what would be an action-packed rematch.

All photos by Ed Mulholland/HBO

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