Josh Warrington retained his IBF featherweight world title as a blistering start set up a unanimous points win over Carl Frampton in a fight-of-the-year contender in Manchester.
Captivating from start to finish, the Englishman’s staggering work-rate laid the platform for a hugely impressive win – his 28th in succession.
Having narrowly avoided being dropped in the opening round, Frampton fought gallantly with wonderful shot selection to tighten up the contest in the middle rounds.
However, the Northern Irishman could not reverse the damage sufficiently as he slid to defeat in a world title fight for the second time.
Warrington now looks set for a unification bout against one of the division’s other belt holders, with WBO champion Oscar Valdez his most likely opponent.
Two judges scored the fight 116-112, with the other scoring 116-113.
“My hands are sore and I’ve got bruises on my head but I’ve done it. I’ve shown what I’m about,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
“If you had said last year that I would’ve beaten Lee Selby and Carl Frampton back to back, people would’ve laughed in your face.
“I think I earned his respect as soon as I hit him, but it was always about controlling the pace. I’ve always had self-belief and I’ve had it for a long time.
“I don’t feel pressure now once I get into a building because I get this massive energy from somewhere. Once I’m in there, I feel I can’t be beaten.”