Michael Conlan landed the WBO international super-bantamweight title in London on Friday night after recording a hard-fought victory over Romania's Ionut Baluta.
The 29-year-old from Belfast prevailed on a majority points win at Bethnal Green's York Hall, with two judges scoring the bout 117-112 and 115-114 in favour of Conlan, while a third couldn't split the two fighters on his scorecard (114-114).
The win strengthens the unbeaten Conlan's (15-0) claims for a world title shot against another boxer undefeated in the pro ranks – WBO super-bantamweight world champion Stephen Fulton (19-0) of the United States.
"Baluta is tougher than I thought," Conlan, who is represented by MTK, a sports management firm with links to Daniel Kinahan, said afterwards.
"He's shown in his last two fights that he’s as game as he come, but he was missing with tons of punches. It was a good fight though and good preparation for what is to come.
"He held his engine more than I thought he would and he worked every round. It was my first fight at super-bantamweight and my first 12 rounder and the perfect test for where I’m at.
"I want Stephen Fulton in Belfast in August. With the politics of boxing, will it be possible for then? I don’t know, but we will hope so. If it can happen in August I would love that, but if not then in the winter in New York."
On the same card, Sunny Edwards claimed the IBF flyweight world title with a unanimous points victory over Moruti Mthalane.
The Londoner dominated the exchanges to administer the veteran South African’s first defeat since 2008.
Edwards’ superiority over the 12 rounds was reflected on the scorecards with the judges scoring it 118-111, 120-108, 115-113.
The 25-year-old’s victory saw him become a world champion like his brother Charlie, who did so at the same weight in 2018.