By Adam Norman
David Price became the first British heavyweight champion from Liverpool with a sensational fourth round stoppage of Sam Sexton at Aintree.
Price, who also won the vacant Commonwealth strap, was mightily impressive from the outset against a useful trial horse, hurting his opponent with a variety of shots throughout.
The 28-year-old, touted by promoter Frank Maloney as a future world champion, looked the real deal as he took the centre of the ring in the opening round and dominated behind a crisp jab.
Sexton, six inches shorter and out of range, was unable to make much impression as Price landed almost at will, doubling up with the left hook while all the while looking to unleash the big right hand.
The Norwich man was playing it cagily as he looked for an opening but Price kept him at bay, the left jab disconcerting Sexton who nevertheless looked more lively in the third as he was finally able to unload a combination at close range.
Price looked as though he was just waiting for an opening and it came late in the third, another left followed by a hooking right that glanced Sexton's temple on the way through, dropping the smaller man.
Sexton soon rose, acknowledging the shot by punching his gloves together as the bell sounded the end of the round.
Price knew his man was there for the taking as he came out for the fourth and Sexton was on the end of another right hand that had him staggering backwards, and he went down for a second time as the bigger man unloaded a barrage of blows.
The former Olympic bronze medallist still didn't wade in for the finish, instead picking his shots before ending it sensationally, forcing Sexton to cover up with some body shots before a short left hook landed flush - the former Commonwealth champion crashing his head on the canvas as he fell with referee Howard Foster immediately waving the fight off.
"I felt like I boxed a perfect fight - I don't think Sam laid a glove on me," Price told Sky Sports. "I knew I'd have to be patient with Sam early, because I knew he'd be tight and cagey.
"Once I got through I knew I'd penetrate and hurt him, and I did. No-one's seen me use the jab for I don't know how long because the fights have been over so quickly, so I'm glad that went a bit longer so people could see a bit of variation in my work.
"For me, I'm ready to move on and challenge the best out there. I've got to take my time of course but I've got to make a gradual step up.
"Making a statement like that I'm going to have to move forward again."