Belfast featherweight Michael Conlan beat Karim Guerfi with a sensational first-round knockout to move one step closer to another world title fight.
Conlan, 31, rocked his French opponent with a big right before finishing him off with a barrage of punches.
The victory at the SSE Arena was the 18th in 19 professional fights for Conlan and his second in 2022.
He beat Miguel Marriaga in August after losing a dramatic world title fight to England’s Leigh Wood in March.
Saturday night’s devastating win over Guerfi moved Conlan one step closer to another title shot, which was a major motivation heading into this fight.
His manager and brother, Jamie Conlan, later revealed that New York’s SSE Arena and Madison Square Garden had both been booked for St. Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17, as possible venues for another title contest. global.
Conlan was dominant from the first bell, immediately taking control of the fight with his right hand in front of a raucous home crowd in Belfast.
There were two and a half minutes on the clock when he made his move, confusing Guerfi before hitting him with a number of follow-up shots. This gave the referee no choice but to stop the encounter as the Frenchman swayed and stumbled after getting back to his feet.
“I will fight any world champion”
A euphoric Conlan was in a jubilant mood after telling ESPN+: “I feel great. I feel like I might still go tomorrow, in fact I might go now because I haven’t really started and I had a lot more to give.
“Every punch I seemed to land I saw it hurt him. It was only a matter of time, I didn’t think it would be done in the first round, but it’s a nice gift Christmas for me.
“It’s my first stop in the first round, so Merry Christmas everyone. The support I’ve had has been special. Fingers crossed there’s a world title fight here on St. Patrick.
“It’s good when a 10-week camp pays off so quickly. I will fight any world champion. We just want to fight for a world title again.
“We know what happened in my last [when Leigh Wood knocked Conlan out of the ring in the final round]it was a challenge, I was a minute and a half away.
“I can’t let this stay in my memory forever, I have to go in and rewrite this and face either Leigh [Wood] or another world champion as soon as possible.”
In the evening’s co-main event, Belfast’s Sean McComb put on a display of clinical boxing to edge out Zsolt Osadan on his way to a comprehensive unanimous decision win.
‘The Public Nuisance’ has been crowned the new WBO European light welterweight champion, with a big 2023 now potentially on the cards.
Lisburn’s Kurt Walker previously picked up a 60-54 shutout win over Yader Cardoza, before new IBO light heavyweight champion Padraig McCrory beat Dmytro Fedas to take his unbeaten record to 16-0 with a shutout victory of 80-72 points.