Washington's Darryl Tyson scored a 12-round unanimous decision last night over Melvin Paul to claim the vacant Continental American lightweight title at the D.C. Convention Center.

Tyson was the aggressor from the fourth round on, but Paul, of New Orleans, took every barrage Tyson could fire.

"I thought he (Paul) would go down, but I also thought he would get up because of the kind of fighter he is," Tyson said.

Paul took a standing eight count in the ninth round, although it wasn't clear if it was the result of Tyson's overhand right or a partial slip by Paul. His handlers worked on a cut over Paul's left eye after the ninth and 10th rounds.

Tyson said he thought his best punch was his left hook, and it appeared that he might end the fight in the sixth round when he connected with three in a row to the head with Paul stuck in the corner.

After each fighter spent the first couple of rounds getting the measure of the other, the action picked up in the third round. Just before the end of the third, Tyson landed a left-right combination that stung Paul.

About 2,500 fans attended the seven-bout card.

Earlier, former welterweight champion Wilfred Benitez scored a sixth-round technical knockout of Danny Chapman. Chapman, of Albany, N.Y., did not come out for the seventh round.

In the sixth, Benitez staggered Chapman with a straight right, then a left. Combinations to the body and head of Chapman finished him off.

"It was a good fight for me," Benitez said. "The one thing I didn't want to do was go the distance in slow motion."

In a ragged bout, Washington's Al Martino scored a convincing eight-round decision over Zach Bensalah of Troy, N.Y.

"Darryl is the main event and Wilfred is the co-main event, but I'll be the show," Martino said before the fight.

His showing was strong, but he was unable to put Bensalah away after having him in trouble a couple of times.

Featherweight Leroy Brooks of Washington lost a six-round split-decision to Donnie Parker of Baltimore, who was making his pro debut. Parker got the decision despite taking two standing eight counts, although it appeared he slipped before going to the canvas on the second one, which occurred in the final round.

Washington lightweight Larry Pringle fared better, getting a victory from the judges in a four-round split decision over Willie McNeal of Philadelphia. Pringle, 27, was the oldest fighter on the card.

Henry Hawkins of Washington made his pro debut in the opening bout on the card, but lightweight Jose LaBorde, of Winchester, Va., finished Hawkins with a technical knockout at 2:05 of the third round in the scheduled four-round fight.