Vasyl Lomachenko made boxing history by stopping Jorge Linares to claim a world title in a third weight division in just his 12th professional fight.
The Ukrainian took the WBA lightweight world title at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, despite being put down in the sixth round in New York.
The 30-year-old got to his feet before stopping the Venezuelan with a vicious left to the body in the 10th round.
“My father told me, ‘you need to go to the body’,” Lomachenko said.
“I prepared for the last few rounds and I knew about this punch, but I thought I already did what I needed to do. I was wrong and he caught me.
“He’s a great fighter and he gave me one more lesson in boxing,”
Linares, who was leading on one judge’s scorecard at the time of the stoppage, insisted he could have continued and said he wants a rematch after his 13-fight winning streak was ended.
However, the hand and foot speed of double Olympic champion Lomachenko – considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world – proved decisive against his bigger opponent.
In his first lightweight bout, he was floored by a straight right to the nose late in the sixth round, but within two more rounds he had opened a cut over Linares’ left eye and targeted it remorselessly.
A ferocious flurry of blows in the 10th, which concluded with a thudding left to the body that sent Linares to the canvas, was enough to convinced referee Ricky Gonzalez to award Lomachenko victory by technical knockout.
The Ukrainian lost in his second professional fight – a WBO title fight at featherweight – but claimed the belt in his next bout, before adding the WBO super-featherweight title in his seventh fight to become the fastest two-weight world champion in history.
“Going into this fight, we knew ‘Loma’ was a huge talent,” said Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum. “After this fight, we know now that he’s a fighter.”
No man has claimed titles in three divisions faster, with Australian Jeff Fenech doing so in his 20th bout and greats such as Oscar de la Hoya (22 fights), Floyd Mayweather (34) and Manny Pacquiao (41) needing longer to achieve the feat.