Perth heavyweight Mark de Mori stopped US veteran Damon Reed in the fifth round on the Gold Coast last night to score his 11th consecutive victory.
Reed (46-17) went the distance with James Toney last year, but succumbed to body punches in the main event at Jupiters Casino.
De Mori took a while to adjust to the stick-and-move style of the former title contender, before ending the fight with two knockdowns in the fifth.
“I really underestimated how awkward and elusive Reed was,” de Mori said.
“He was hell bent on dragging me into deeper waters and using his experience and conditioning.
“I just had to grind him down; I couldn’t rely on one big bomb.
“I had a guy in front of my showboating and refusing to engage and I stuck to my plan.”
The win takes de Mori’s record to 20 wins, one loss and two draws, with the defeat coming in his debut year, 2004.
Despite finishing his last five fights within five rounds, he said there was plenty of room for improvement.
“I didn’t like his style, so it was a great learning experience,” he said.
“When you’ve got a cagey guy ducking and diving, it feels really hard to get your rhythm.
“He was extremely awkward, he tied guard, didn’t stop moving and he was hard to hit.
“It was a really good fight for me; I felt a bit foolish in there because he was so elusive.”
De Mori was the 20th rated heavyweight in the World Boxing Council going into the bout and had struggled to secure big fights.
The Don King prospect said he had come a long way in the last eight years and was ready to step up to the next level.
“When I first started, I would have gone into gorilla mode and run out of gas,” he said.
“To stop him in five rounds is a great achievement, but I’ll still need to improve for the top 10 guys.
“I’ll be back in the gym next week. As soon as the big fight crops up, I need to be ready.”