Josh Warrington upset the odds once again as he retained his IBF featherweight title at the Manchester Arena after getting the better of Carl Frampton in a bruising 12-round battle.
The pair engaged in one of the contenders for fight of the year but the Leeds-born Warrington, an underdog with the bookmakers having been so impressive against Lee Selby in May, largely came out on top in the exchanges.
Warrington was therefore awarded a unanimous decision against the Northern Irishman by two scores of 116-112 and one of 116-113 in the first defence of his world title as he extended his unbeaten pro record to 28-0.
Frampton, a former two-weight world champion, slipped to 26-2, as he was simply overwhelmed by Warrington’s speed and sheer volume of punches throughout.
Warrington is not renowned for his power, with only six of his wins coming inside the distance, but Frampton was stunned at several stages of the contest.
Victory completes a superb year for Warrington, who walked to the ring alongside the Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, as he followed up his surprise win over Selby at his beloved Elland Road with another incredible display here to thrill the crowd.
Frampton perhaps shaded the support when the fighters walked to the ring but it was Warrington’s fans who were singing loudest by the end of the clash.
Warrington’s trainer and father, Sean O’Hagan, said: “I think it’s one of the best fights I have ever seen. It’s gonna take some beating by anywhere, is that.
“We trained hard for him. We knew he was a hard man. They delivered right on time, just on top of Christmas. They both had their good spells in there. It was a very, very close fight and it was two good, solid professionals in there. Hats off to them both.
“I think there’s a little bit of damage to the right hand but not too severe.”
Warrington was stunned at the level of support in Manchester, despite his Yorkshire roots, with fans showing their respects as they regularly interrupted his post-fight interview.
The 28-year-old said: “I have no words for it. Oh man, this is what it’s all about. All about this support.”