Kash Ali was true to his word in stopping Tomas Salek to win the vacant IBF European heavyweight title in Sheffield on Friday night.
Salek was unable to deal with Ali’s uppercut throughout the contest, and found himself on the canvas in the second session after having his nose busted moments earlier.
Down again in the third, the Czech was in no state to continue as Ali finished the job in style.
The win gives the 29-year-old a ranking with the IBF, and he is targeting some mega fights in the future.
Ali was famously banned from the sport after being disqualified for biting Liverpool’s David Price in their 2019 bout, but he promises to keep his teeth to himself from now.
Speaking after last night’s impressive display, he said: “I’ll keep my teeth for smiling from now on, I promise. I did say that I was going to let my fists do the talking, and I definitely did.”
On his world title ambitions, Ali added: “There’s no other reason that I’m in this sport. Tonight put me in the rankings, and now I’m heading in the right direction.
"I feel like I'm coming into my prime now. I'm a threat to anyone in the heavyweight division."
So, what next for a fighter brimming with confidence after his fourth consecutive victory since that infamous night at the Echo Arena?
A rematch with Price hasn’t been ruled out, with the Scouser needing a return to winning ways after his stoppage defeat to Dereck Chisora back in 2019.
Ali has in fact sparred Chisora as well as the likes of Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker and backs himself against that level of opposition.
Speaking with The Sportsman ahead of last night’s event, his confidence was clear for all to see.
“They’ve probably got more experience than me, but skill-wise I believe I’m up there with any of them. I’ve sparred them all and I don’t see what they can do better than me. It’s time to prove it now.”
Chisora is a serious possibility, as is the Price rematch. However, with Ali looking to gate-crash the IBF rankings, he could do a lot worse than call out a fight with Scotland-based Martin Bakole.
The Congolese man is ranked number 15 with the IBF and has just the one defeat to his record at the hands of the highly-rated Michael Hunter back in 2018.
Since that stoppage defeat to the American, Bakole has beaten serious contenders in Mariusz Wach and Kevin Johnson inside the distance, and beat Sergey Kuzmin by unanimous decision for the vacant WBC International belt in December.
For now, Ali is quite rightly focusing on his own improvements, but there is a clear pathway to the level that he is determined to reach.
Josh Holmes and Zak Miller, who have both told The Sportsman of their world title ambitions, were victorious earlier on the bill.
Holmes, who was 5-0 heading into his bout with debutant Danny Allen, had reiterated his desire to claim his first stoppage win, and did exactly that with a dominant display that saw his opponent’s team throw in the towel midway through the second session.
Miller, who had stopped the durable Michael Horabin in his last bout, won every round in another quality display against Gateshead’s Kris Pilkington.
Highly-regarded super middleweight Mark Jeffers continued his unbeaten run with a fourth-round stoppage of Czech Tomas Bezvoda, while Wolverhampton’s Conah Walker won the Midlands Area welterweight tile with a win over Walsall’s Levi Ferguson.
Fightzone organisers have no intention of slowing down, with two stacked cards for subscribers to enjoy next weekend.
Friday sees former European welterweight king Bradley Skeete make his much-anticipated return after two-and-a-half years out of the ring, with Charlie Schofield’s attempt to avenge his only loss against Mickey Ellison topping the bill.
On Saturday, Marc Leach headlines another Sheffield show as he takes on Thomas Essomba in a British Super Bantamweight title eliminator.
As always, both cards will be full of up-and-coming British talent, and subscribers can enjoy both nights of boxing at a subscription price of just £4.99 per month.