Liverpool light-heavyweight Tony Bellew enhanced his reputation with a ninth-round stoppage of Colombian puncher Edison Miranda at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.
A left hook to the body saw Miranda drop to one knee - although he had taken a battering throughout the round - and informed referee Ian John-Lewis he did not want to continue.
John-Lewis had seen enough and waved the fight off with just six seconds of the round remaining.
Bellew felt he could have ended the fight earlier, but had too much respect for Miranda's power to take risks.
"I could have stepped on him earlier and put my foot on the gas from the fifth round onwards,'' he said.
"But you could see he still had that big right hand and I wanted to drain him a little more.
"I couldn't give him the opportunity because he's a puncher and I've wised up as a fighter.
"Miranda was a dangerous opponent and the gatekeeper to the super-middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions. Only top guys beat him.''
Bellew made a slow start, but the 29-year-old burst into life in the eighth round, capitalising on his tiring opponent to secure his 18th win in 19 fights.
Miranda's best days may have been behind him, but his record was full of high-quality opponents including Andre Ward, Lucian Bute and Arthur Abraham.
Losing four of his last seven fights underlined he was no longer a significant force, but with 30 of his 35 wins finishing early, his power was never in doubt.
“Only A-list guys beat Edison Miranda so what does that make me?” said Bellew. “He's proven World class. I don't know how good I am but I work hard and I improve all the time. I have been asking for this type of fights for a long time and we should be seeing more names of Edison's calibre coming to the UK to fight me.
“I’m 50/50 about tonight, I got the end result I wanted so I'm happy with that. The game plan was to make him miss in the first four rounds then make him miss and make him pay after. It was a bit rough in the first four rounds but I stuck to the once he started to tire and I started to hit him with punches. The gaffer gave me a telling off in the corner going into the last round and I stepped it up, landed the left hook and went downstairs – you've never seen Miranda's belly-button in his career and now you know why.
“People go on about my chin and saying I've been down - but I get up and it's what I do when I get up that counts, I will never, ever stop.”
That power was evident midway through the second round when Bellew was rocked by a looping right hand and was forced to weather a barrage of punches as Miranda sought an early finish.
Miranda was caught by a straight right himself and responded with a theatrical shuffle in an attempt to show he was unhurt.
The rivals exchanged punches in a fiercely-contest third round, but Bellew was struggling to tag the awkward Colombian, whose movement made him difficult to hit.
Constantly on the back foot, Bellew was beginning to enjoy greater success with his jab but the fight remained finely poised as it entered the midway stage.
Miranda's theatrics continued and on one occasion he leaned on the ropes and turned his back after Bellew had unloaded.
The eighth saw Miranda take a straight left-right combination but it was another tight round, though Bellew was beginning to take control.
And in the ninth he began hitting his opponent at will with a succession of shots taking their toll before a vicious body shot ended the contest.
On the same card, Lee Purdy won the IBF international welterweight title with a fourth-round stoppage victory over Gumersindo Carrasco.
With two renowned punchers going toe-to-toe for the vacant title, it was a fight that was unlikely to last the distance.
Carrasco went down in the opener, and although he was caught with a left hand it was more a case of Purdy pushing him over, although the referee administered a count.
With three rounds in the bag Purdy came out with intent and it was a sweet right hand that dropped Carrasco for a second time.
He was on the canvas again via a left to the body shortly afterwards and then when backed onto the ropes, a classy combination left the Argentine helpless and the referee stopped the fight.
"I had a look at him in the first round and I just believed I could take his power, which is why I put the pressure on him," Purdy told Sky Sports.
"He's never done 10 rounds once and I'm a seasoned pro now, I can do that for 12 rounds. I felt what he had, I believed I can take it.
"I didn't even get started in that fight, please believe me there's much more to come. This is what I love to do, I'm a fighter through and through.
"If they're like him and they want to stand in front of me then so be it, and will take them out."
Tags: Edison Miranda , Tony Bellew , Bellew-Miranda , Bellew vs Miranda