Carl Frampton has revealed he had to battle through the pain barrier to get back to winning ways in Las Vegas, and set up a world title shot next year.
Despite boxing with a fractured hand throughout, the Belfast man dropped Tyler McCreary twice in a points win.
It's a recurrence of the freak injury that saw his summer bout in Philadelphia get cancelled after a concrete pillar fell on his hand, and caused a fracture of his fifth metacarpal.
He said: "It was kind of cracked, it wasn't fully healed, and I re-fractured it probably about six weeks ago, and then 12 days ago again. I've done very little sparring in this camp, but I got the most amount of rounds that I could, but I had to fight.
"A lot of people had come out here to support me and spent their hard-earned money, so there was no way I was pulling out."
Regardless of that considerable handicap Frampton outclassed his American opponent, and won 100-88 on all three judge's scorecards in the 10-round fight at a catchweight of 128lbs.
It was his first fight since defeat to Josh Warrington in December 2018.
He entered the ring wearing his re-purposed graduation robe from his recent honorary doctorate awarded by Queen's University Belfast, and displayed his superior boxing IQ throughout.
Back to winning ways! pic.twitter.com/c1RdEthqV0— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) December 1, 2019
After using the first round to gauge the range of his much taller opponent Frampton set to work on McCreary and picked off scoring shots without ever having to exert himself too much.
Frampton was showing the impressive footwork for which he's renowned for, and in the sixth round demonstrated that he still has some power too.
A mean left hook to the body left McCreary down on one knee facing the referee's count, and Frampton repeated the trick in the ninth round.
Afterwards the former two-weight world champion said his hand injury played a role in his tactics: "It's softer to hit the body than the head," he laughed.
Frampton coasted the final round before the judges announced their unanimous decision, scoring every round in his favour. That was well received by his travelling support, who sang throughout.
The performance came as a relief to the north Belfast man, who admitted he was concerned about what effect the injury might have: "I was nervous going into this fight, but I knew I have the experience, I have the boxing brain and the knowledge, and I have the power.
"I dropped him there with a couple of body shots. With two good hands I would have got rid of that kid, but he was pretty tough and he stayed up. Yeah, disappointed I didn't get the stoppage but the most important thing was to win the fight."
Frampton had promised to retire if he wasn't able to beat McCreary, but victory looks to have brought him closer to another special night in his illustrious career.
Jamel Herring, the WBO super-featherweight world champion, was introduced in the ring after the fight with a view to setting up a contest between the pair next Spring.
"It's the first time I've met Jamel. My impression of him before I met him is that he's a nice guy, and he lived up to my impression," Frampton said.
"I just want to fight for a world title next. I want them big fights. I would love the opportunity to fight Jamel. If it happens in Belfast, great. If I have to go to New York, I'm also up for that."
Herring, a former US marine, reciprocated: "We don't turn down no smoke. I would love to fight him, either in (Madison Square) Garden, Belfast, wherever the fans want it. Let’s do it."
Both fighters are promoted by Top Rank and based on Frampton's much larger fan base, CEO Bob Arum is keen to hold the fight in Belfast.
It's a prospect that excites both the fighter and his trainer Jamie Moore: "Carl never thought he'd get the opportunity to fight in Belfast again, certainly not at that level," he said.
"Bob Arum looks like he's really going to deliver for him. What a night that will be. Herring is a good solid fighter, but Carl is more than capable of beating him.
"I think the carrot that's dangled, in terms of being Ireland's only three-weight world champion, will push him and drive him even more. He'll be so determined and I think you'll see a different animal again."
The Irishman has previously held world titles at super-bantamweight and featherweight.
If the 32-year-old wins the super featherweight belt he would become Ireland's first-ever three-weight world champion.