Ricardo Sandoval is now next in line for a world title shot after a stunning stoppage win.
The American flyweight took out Swansea’s Jay Harris on Friday night at the Bolton Whites Hotel in Bolton, England.
Sandoval, who had been flanked all week by the vice-president of Golden Boy Eric Gomez, started the fight well, exclusively live on iFL TV worldwide and ESPN + Stateside.
Harris, the former European champion and WBC flyweight world title challenger, came back into it as the midway stage approached, and it looked like it would be an extremely close contest between the two men.
However, round eight proved to be the turning point. Sandoval, at just 22, proved exactly what all the fuss could be about in time to come as he crumpled Harris and sent him crashing to the canvas with a crushing body shot.
Bravely, the Welshman rose to his feet and attempted to continue, only to be scythed down by yet another body blow –– this time a left hook right to the pit of the stomach –– and failing to beat the count.
IBF champion Sunny Edwards was watching at ringside as he witnessed a potential future opponent, with Sandoval –– who is now 19-1 with 14 quick –– now in pole position as mandatory contender after winning the final eliminator.
Referee Michael Alexander called a halt to proceedings after two minutes and 12 seconds of the eighth, leaving Harris licking his wounds after suffering his second defeat as a professional.
Meanwhile, Paul Butler won a split decision to add yet another belt to his ever-growing collection.
The Ellesmere Port bantamweight, who is a former British, Commonwealth and world champion, was in against Mexican opposition as part of the supporting cast to Harris’ disappointing defeat at the hands of Sandoval.
Butler, 32, was originally meant to meet another former world champion in the shape of Joseph Agbeko, with the fight doubling up as a final eliminator for Johnriel Casimero’s WBO world title.
But due to Agbeko suffering fight week visa issues, ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ was across the ring from Willibaldo Garcia as the pair vied for the vacant WBO International bantamweight title.
Garcia was dropped in the opening round and, it seemed, was a clear loser come the final bell, but judge Howard Foster somehow inexplicably awarded the fight to the visitor by a margin of 95-94.
Thankfully, Butler’s blushes were spared as he was given the other two cards by margins of 96-94 and 97-92.