New York (AFP) - Vasyl Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in the 10th round on Saturday to claim the World Boxing Association lightweight world title and a slice of boxing history at Madison Square Garden.
Ukraine's Lomachenko survived a sixth-round knock-down to set a record in claiming a world title in a third weight division in just his 12th professional fight.
Lomachenko finished off the tightly contested bout with a fierce burst in the 10th, capped by a vicious left to the body that sent Linares down.
"I prepared for the last few rounds, and my father told me, 'You need to go to the body,'" Lomachenko said.
Venezuela's Linares slowly got to his feet, but referee Ricky Gonzalez waved it off at 2:08 of the 10th to give Lomachenko a victory by technical knockout that ended Linares' 13-fight winning streak.
Linares said he thought he could have continued and would be eager for a rematch.
At the time of the stoppage, Lomachenko was up by two points on one judge's card, Linares was up by two on another and one judge had it tied.
The bout, before a crowd of 10,429 in Madison Square Garden's main arena, was a far cry from Lomachenko's last four fights in which all of his opponents quit on their stools.
"I want to say thank you to Jorge Linares, he's a great fighter and he gave me one more lesson in boxing," said Lomachenko, who was sent to the canvas by a straight right to the nose late in the sixth round.
"I knew about this punch," southpaw Lomachenko said. "But he's good."
Lomachenko quickly pulled himself together, his hand and foot speed making the difference against his bigger opponent.
"Going into this fight, we knew Loma was a huge talent," said Lomachenko's promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank. "After this fight, we know now that he's a fighter."
By the eighth round he'd opened a cut over Linares' left eye, and he was remorseless in targeting the vulnerable spot.
Lomachenko, whose storied amateur career included two Olympic gold medals, improved to 11-1 with nine knockouts.
Linares fell to 44-4 with 27 wins inside the distance.
Lomachenko, 30, added the WBA lightweight belt to a resume that includes a victory over Gary Russell Jr. for a featherweight world title in just his third pro bout.
In his seventh fight, Lomachenko moved up to super featherweight and knocked out Roman Martinez to take his belt and set the record for fewest fights needed to win a world title in two weight classes.
Among other fighters to win world titles in three divisions, Australian Jeff Fenech did so in his 20th bout while greats such as Oscar de la Hoya (22 fights), Floyd Mayweather (34) and Manny Pacquiao (41) needed even longer to achieve the feat.