Liam Williams moved closer to a dream world title fight with a dominant fifth-round stoppage of American Alantez Fox.
He claimed the WBO intercontinental title and and won an eliminator for the full belt, which is held by Demetrius Andrade. The WBO clarified a few days ago, that their contest was not a "final" eliminator.
The bout was briefly delayed at the start when Williams’s trainer Dominic Ingle checked the ring ropes and said they were too slack, so he had them tightened.
Williams won the first round well, even at times outjabbing the 6ft 4in American, but by the end of the session he was cut by the left eye.
A couple of times in the second, Fox was caught by the Williams right hand.
The Welshman took the third as well. He brings a unique intensity into the ring, is brimming with confidence and Fox was having to fight hard not to be overwhelmed and he took an elbow in the third that left him bleeding on the bridge of the nose.
Fox was down from a right in the fourth – the round Williams had predicted he’d win in – and he had to hold with less than a minute remaining to keep Williams off him and was clinging on at the end of the session.
“The time will come,” said Ingle in the corner, urging his man to stay patient.
In the other corner, Fox’s sad Troy said if there was a repeat performance in the fifth, he would stop it.
The visitor was docked a point for holding in round five as the distress signals were fired but he was down one more time as Williams steamed in behind accurate rights and lefts. As Fox fell, he tried to hold on but wilted and referee Steve Gray waved it off.
It was stopped after 2.59 of the session.
WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, who fights Luke Keeler in January, outpointed Fox over 12 in 2017, and Williams is now the leading contender for Andrade.
“I put so much hard work in the gym, we executed the game plan perfectly and it shows what hard work and dedication can do,” said Williams.