Chris Kongo delivered a largely faultless display on his biggest night so far as he stopped Luther Clay in their welterweight ten-rounder on the Matchroom Fight Camp show in Essex.

The end came with 16 seconds left in the ninth round, when Clay slumped to the floor, exhausted, after Kongo had repelled his best efforts.

Kongo used his height advantage well, controlling the space with his jab and carried the more power. He looked close to stopping Clay in the fifth and finished the job after hurting him again in the ninth.

“It’s been 16 months since I boxed, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity and there was no way I was leaving that ring without this around my waist,” Kongo said pointing to the WBO “global” belt, which he had won. “I was willing to die in there before I got out of there. There was no way I was going to leave without this belt.

“I knew I had the speed, I knew I had the power, I just had to go in there and pace myself. The first rounds I thought I was trying to feel him out, but then when it got into the middle rounds, I hurt him and I knew before the fight ends I am going to get him out of there.

“Next I want to defend it. Look what I done there when I was 16 months out. Imagine when I am fighting regularly what is going to happen to these guys. I believe I can be one of the best contenders in the world and I believe I am the best welterweight in the UK.”

Kongo, 27, controlled the first two rounds from distance, using his jab well and getting through with a good body shot near the end of the first round and staying solid as Clay tried to work his way inside in the second.

In the third round, Clay did better at closing the distance, going in low, leading with the jab and catching the taller man to the body. Up close, Clay did well too, throwing out of the clinches, while Kongo tried to make space for himself.

Kongo made a breakthrough in the fifth round, landing a good body shot and then a right hook that landed behind Clay’s ear. Suddenly Clay looked on rubbery legs and he rolled back to the ropes with Kongo in hot pursuit. Kongo opened up, landing a series of hard shots with both hands before Clay was able to grab hold and ride out the moment, By the end of the round it was Clay on the front foot.

After putting a lot of effort into the fifth round, Kongo looked to pace himself more in the sixth and seventh, getting back behind the jab and control the distance. Clay remained active, though, capitalising on a wild Kongo miss near the end of the seventh to chase him around the ring.

Clay never stopped attacking and, after a sticky eighth round, he was hurt again early in the ninth, when, after being rocked, he was stunned by a huge uppercut. Clay showed incredible heart to continue going forward, while Kongo waited for his moment.

That moment was not long in coming, as two left hooks caught Clay clean and dropped him to the canvas, the towel coming in from Clay’s corner before Victor Loughlin had completed his count.