Jame DeGale stayed on course for a world-title shot by stopping Gevorg Khatchikan in the 11th round of their Saturday night fight. The former Olympic champion was given a tough test at times by his Dutch foe in Bristol but appeared to be in control of the fight for the majority of it.
The end came at the end of the 11th round when a series of body shots left the previously-unbeaten Khatchikan in trouble. Twice he went down and although he got up both times, the referee did not allow him to continue after the second. There were just two seconds of the round remaining.
DeGale was bleeding from a cut above his left eye from the second round, but was generally showing the greater aggression and troubling his opponent with his combination punches and hand-speed.
"I knew I was wearing him down,'' DeGale said on Channel 5. "I knew the first couple of rounds would be difficult. He wanted to fight, but I broke him down. The better the opponent, the better I box.''
DeGale denied ever having been in trouble, saying: "Because it's so easy, I switch off. It's stupid.''
He added: "I could see at the press conference that he really wanted it. I've done 11 rounds, ended up stopping him... I'm pleased.
"It's about moving on now and just getting that world title. That's what it's all about.''
DeGale had planned to fight Badou Jack in May in a final eliminator for the WBC super-middleweight title. A fight on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather's showdown with Marcos Maidana had been mooted by Jack, who failed to keep his side of the bargain by losing in the first round to Dereck Edwards on Friday night.
That leaves DeGale's path to the world title looking a little less certain now, although promoter Mick Hennessy will be keen to secure a shot at one of the belts as soon as possible.