Martin Murray marked his return to the ring with a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten contender Nuhu Lawal.
The St Helens boxer was having his first fight since losing to domestic rival George Groves back in June and he put his name back into world title contention with victory.
His German-based opponent was a late yet tough replacement after Dmitrii Chudinov pulled out of the contest with a virus.
Despite the late change, Murray remained focused and won with scores of 116-111 and 117-110 twice to claim the vacant WBA Continental super-middleweight title and keep alive his dream of finally winning an elusive world title.
It was Lawal who came out the faster and targeted Murray’s body early on as he looked to set a fast pace. In the second round though, Murray started to find his rhythm and exploded into life after landing a thunderous right hand that rocked his opponent.
Lawal was not overawed by the occasion though and he returned fire with fire, continuing to march forward and load up on his shots as the fight warmed up nicely.
In the fourth and after a frantic start, Lawal started to cut a weary figure and Murray began to regularly breach the defence of his opponent, countering nicely, landing uppercuts and sharp hooks to the body.
The fight though continued to go one way and then the other and Murray started to look the more sluggish of the pair in the sixth as Lawal showed no signs of taking a step backwards.
As the fight reached its latter stages, the cleaner and more eye-catching work was coming from Murray, but it was by no means becoming a comfortable night’s work for the frustrated favourite.
The end almost came in the ninth as Murray had his finest round of the contest and landed a succession of brutal combinations that had Lawal cowering on the ropes but eventually saved by the bell.
Lawal valiantly fought on and caught Murray with some clubbing shots, but the Brit, despite having a point taken off for use of the head, earned a unanimous victory.
Murray told Sportsclubsociety after the fight: “We caught him a few times, but he was tough and gave it a really good go, I showed that I’m a class above though.
“I thought the referee had an absolute shocker, What he took a point off for me in that last round, I’ll never know?”