THE dream is alive for Toowoomba's Michael Katsidis after his ring comeback overcame a searching test at Rumours International last night.
Katsidis's push back towards the world boxing stage received a necessary boost when he overcame tough Englishman Graham Earl in a bruising encounter.
After backing himself for a return to big-time boxing earlier this year, the former two-time WBO champion claimed his third world title belt with a unanimous points decision earning him the WBU light welterweight crown.
Katsidis produced a clever tactical fight against the man he defeated seven years earlier for the WBO world lightweight championship at Wembley.
The Australian, who is only two fights into a comeback after more than two years out of the ring, fought with a mixture of control interspersed with his trademark flare and aggression.
The judges awarded Katsidis the bout 120-109, 119-109, 120-108.
But while the scorecards indicated an overwhelming victory to Katsidis, they didn't to justice to Earl's gutsy performance.
It was Earl's first fight in five years.
But despite being on the back foot throughout he refused to bend as he continually dug deep against Katsidis's measured attack.
Katsidis said Earl gave him the fight he had planned for.
"He's extra tough and he came here to go the distance tonight," Katsidis said.
"I knew I had to fight a smart fight and pace myself and I'm pleased with how I was able to control it.
"It's only my second fight back and I've been able to win a title.
"Brendon's (Smith) been able to help me pull things together again and it's been a dream run all the way through."
Earl praised the class and power of Katsidis before coming up with his own surprise admission.
"I'd like to thank everyone in Toowoomba for the way they have welcomed me this week," Earl said.
"I'm thinking of moving here myself."