Kell Brook fulfilled a childhood dream as he out-pointed Shawn Porter to claim the IBF welterweight title from the American in Carson, California.
The Sheffield fighter showed his mettle to win a majority verdict from the three judges at ringside to take the belt from Porter, who made a fast start but seemed to run out of steam as the rounds wore on.
Overcoming a cut above his left eye sustained in the second round, Brook gradually grew into the bout and landed the cleaner shots in a sometimes scrappy contest that always seemed to be in the balance. English judge Dave Parris reckoned it a 114-114 draw, so when the scores of 117-111 and 116-112 were read out from the two American officials, many would have expected home favourite Porter to be announced the winner. Instead, though, it was Brook who got the nod by such a wide margin, sparking scenes of wild celebration in his corner.
A small pocket of travelling supporters from Yorkshire were also there at the StubHub Centre to see their man become a world champion, Brook finally getting his hands on a belt he must have wondered if he would ever even get to fight for after three previous attempts were all scuppered by injuries. Setbacks had seen him made to wait 18 months for his long-overdue opportunity against Porter, a come-forward fighter who had taken the title from Devon Alexander before successfully defending it against Paulie Malignaggi. His style was always going to make it a tough night for the challenger, and it was the home favourite who was on top in the opening stages.
Relentlessly marching forward and planting his head right into the slightly taller Brook's chest to stop any counter shots coming back, Porter looked to gain an advantage by any means possible. He was warned on occasions for leading with the head, while he also targeted the body of the challenger in the hope of wearing him down. However, as they moved into the championship rounds it was Brook who was suddenly the stronger, the one doing the chasing. He seized control of the centre of the ring and took up the role as the aggressor. While he was unable to seriously hurt Porter, the 'Special One' did still manage to land some telling blows. He seemed to buzz his rival at the end of the seventh, but didn't have enough time left to follow up with a sustained attack.
Porter suffered a cut of his own, above the right eye, and his cheekbone was also badly swollen by the time the final bell sounded. His rather muted reaction at the end perhaps suggested he feared the worst, though not even Brook could have expected to triumph by such scores. All that mattered really for him was that his dream was finally realised. "You can tell how much this means to me. From a nine-year-old I've dreamed of being a world champion," he said afterwards.
"I was born to do this. I always find a way - I always deliver."
The result stretches Brook's record to a perfect 33-0, while also opening the doors to some potentially huge fights in a star-studded division.