Carl Frampton battled past fierce rival Scott Quigg via a split-decision to add the WBA super-bantamweight title to his IBF crown at an intense Manchester Arena.
The 29-year-old Northern Irishman used an educated left jab and slick defensive skills to dominate the opening two thirds of the fight - tactics that would ultimately secure the 22nd victory of an unblemished professional career, twice by margins of 116-112.
In a bout four years in the making, Quigg - adding a maiden loss to a resume of 31 wins and two draws - will rue taking yet further time to make his presence felt, although judge Levi Martinez’s 115-113 verdict in his favour on one scorecard strengthens the argument for a blockbusting rematch in Frampton’s native Belfast.
A tempestuous pre-fight build-up gave way to a soul-shuddering cacophony as the fighters entered the sold-out arena.
Backers of local man Quigg were largely second-best to Frampton’s vocal hoards, as MC Michael Buffer’s famous introductions offered a velvety contrast to the din.
After a cagey opener - Frampton’s two trips to the canvas in his previous defence against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr - fresh in the memory - the 29-year-old Barry McGuigan protege took control, snaking his jab through Quigg’s tight guard regularly in round two.
Although the Bury man sent home a left hook in three and an overhand right in the fourth, Frampton’s masterful control of the distance meant the WBA champ was struggling to land anything of consequence.
The duo were into chess-match territory by the halfway stage, with Frampton largely operating as the grand master - pot-shotting Quigg as that rapier left continued to torment.
Sensing his moment slipping, Quigg belatedly cranked through the gears. Frampton was rarely short of a response but hooks from both wings slowed his matador act in round 10 he was reeled in during 11 as Quigg hammered him with a punishing right.
Frampton refused to retreat in the last and stood in the trenches to trade, still standing to offer Quigg a warm embrace and accept the victory he craved and deserved.