Stevie Johnston used superior hand speed tonight to pound out an unanimous decision over Angel Manfredy and retain his World Boxing Council lightweight title.

Judges Terry Smith and Tommy Kaczmarek scored the fight 116-112, while judge Bob Logist scored it 118-111. The fight at Foxwoods Resort Casino was the second straight successful title defense for Johnston.

He had lost the WBC lightweight crown to Cesar Bazan in June 1998, but defeated Bazan in a rematch in February.

Johnston (28-1) repeatedly frustrated Manfredy (28-4-1) and was able to come in behind his jab and consistently land right hands to the head. Johnston would also lie on the ropes, duck punches, then land punishing counter right hands.

Johnston, who fights out of Denver, seemed to score at will with right hands in the 11th and 12th rounds. It was learned after the fight that Manfredy, of Gary, Ind., had broken his right hand during the bout.

Manfredy, who had predicted a fifth-round knockout, never had Johnston in trouble. There were no knockdowns in the fight.

It was the second time in the last eight months that Manfredy lost a world title bout. He was stopped by Floyd Mayweather in the second round in a WBC junior lightweight title fight in December.

In the co-feature, former International Boxing Federation junior lightweight champion Arturo Gatti made a successful debut as a junior welterweight, scoring a first-round knockout of Reyes Munoz.

Known for his brawling style, Gatti (30-4) came out jabbing before catching Munoz (21-4) with an overhand right followed by a left hook. That sent Munoz to the canvas with one second left in the first round. Connecticut rules state there is no saving by the bell in any round, so Munoz was counted out at 3:09. Munoz left the ring on a stretcher and was taken to Backus Hospital in nearby Norwich as a precaution. Munoz was alert and talking when he left the ring.

The victory was the first for Gatti since Oct. 4, 1997.