MINNEAPOLIS – David Morrell Jr. gave the fans in his adopted hometown what they came to see Saturday night.

Morrell mostly overwhelmed Kalvin Henderson, until referee Luis Pabon had seen enough during the fourth round. Pabon stepped between them to stop their scheduled 12-round, 168-pound championship match at 2:35 of the fourth round.

Henderson (15-2-1, 11 KOs) never went down and valiantly tried to fend off Morrell, but the huge underdog absorbed a lot of punishment in the opener of a Showtime telecast from The Armory.

The 24-year-old Morrell (7-0, 6 KOs) hopes he demonstrated that he is ready for a showdown with former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs), even though he has just seven professional fights on his record. His impressive victory over Henderson excited a capacity crowd of 4,695 at The Armory, an iconic venue in downtown Minneapolis.

The Cuban-born Morrell calls Minneapolis home when he isn’t training for fights at Ronnie Shields’ gym in Houston. He has developed a fan base in this city, despite that it doesn’t have a large Cuban population.

After almost stopping Henderson in the third round, another right hook by Morrell hurt Henderson badly with just under 35 seconds to go in the fourth round. Just as he did during the third round, Henderson tried to fight back and fend off Morrell.

This time, though, Pabon stepped between them and stopped what was mostly a one-sided fight.

Henderson protested the stoppage, but he had taken a lot of punishment in three-plus rounds.

Morrell landed a hard right to the body just after the midway mark of the third round and another about 10 seconds later. He also blasted Henderson with a right hook to the head that hurt Henderson badly with just under 30 seconds to go in the third round.

Knowing that Henderson was badly hurt, Morrell unloaded numerous power punches as Henderson tried to bob and weave while he was backed against the ropes.

Pabon kept a close eye on the action and appeared on the verge of stepping between them to stop the fight. He gave the tough Henderson time to somehow make it to the end of the round.

Morrell drilled Henderson with a right uppercut with about 1:15 to go in the second round. Henderson let his hands go later in the second, though.

Morrell blocked a lot of Henderson’s shots, but Henderson caught him with a right hand that got Morrell’s attention toward the end of the second round.

An aggressive Morrell opened a cut around Henderson’s left eye in the first round. Henderson spent much of those opening three minutes backed against the ropes, trying to fend off Morrell’s onslaught.

Morrell went after Henderson as soon as the opening bell rang. Henderson backed into the ropes and didn’t throw many punches back, but he blocked some of Morrell’s punches during that initial flurry.

Less than three rounds later, Morrell made the third defense of the WBA secondary super middleweight title he won in August 2020. Canelo Alvarez is the WBA’s true champion in the 168-pound division, but Morrell told BoxingScene.com before he defeated Henderson that he doesn’t believe he is on the Mexican superstar’s “radar” for a fight in the foreseeable future.

He has thus turned his attention to Phoenix’s Benavidez, who mentioned Morrell as a potential opponent after his third-round stoppage of former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs) on May 21 in Glendale, Arizona.

Henderson, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, lost for the second time in his past three fights. The Fort Worth, Texas native lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Cleveland’s Isaiah Steen (16-0, 12 KOs) last July 23 in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Henderson had fought only once since Steen beat him, but he was granted a shot at Morrell’s championship anyway.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.