Callum Smith produced a sensational stoppage to line up his second world title shot.
The Liverpool fighter only moved up in weight 11 months ago when he iced Lenin Castillo inside two rounds in London.
Smith’s scintillating debut victory in the 175-pound division came at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as part of the supporting cast to Oleksandr Usyk’s dethroning of unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
And his second win in his new weight class came at the scene of his finest night since turning pro, the Jeddah Superdome, on the undercard of Joshua’s bid to become a three-time ruler in the sport’s premier division in a rematch against Ukraine’s former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk.
‘Mundo’ took on the number two-rated WBC contender, Mathieu Bauderlique of France, in a final eliminator for a shot at Artur Beterbiev.
Bauderlique is a former European champion at light-heavyweight and only relinquished the belt in order to participate in this fight with Smith.
He started well, landing some good shots and forcing Smith –– who knocked out George Groves at the same venue back in September 2018 to claim the WBA Super world title at super-middleweight –– to cover up, but he remained calm and looked the better boxer.
Smith had a strong second round, landing shots to the body and uppercuts and followed that up in the third round.
The fourth round, however, is where it all started to go right for Smith as he landed a peach of a counter left-hook which floored Bauderlique. He gallantly rose but took numerous big shots before being cleaned out by a left hand from Smith as the Olympic bronze medallist lay stricken on the canvas.
IT'S ALL OVER 😳
WHAT A KO FROM @CallumSmith23 😤#UsykJoshua2#RageOnTheRedSeapic.twitter.com/45CmuBhlm5
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) August 20, 2022
The referee called a halt to proceedings after one minute and 53 seconds of the fourth round.
Meanwhile, Filip Hrgovic secured his position as next in line to the IBF heavyweight title currently held by Oleksandr Usyk.
Usyk takes on Anthony Joshua in a rematch for the unified WBA Super, IBF, IBO and WBO belts in the main event and the Croatian put his name in the hat to join the queue to face the Ukrainian former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
He was in against Zhilei Zhang of China, who scored a first-round knockdown, but it was something of a forgettable fight as Hrgovic, who is promoted by Wasserman, extended his unbeaten record to 15-0 (12 KOs) after tallies of 115-112 twice and 114-113 were handed in by the three judges at ringside.
Badou Jack got away with one against the undefeated Richard Rivera as he kept alive his slim hopes of fighting for a world title in a third weight division. Many thought Rivera had done enough, but Jack was aided by a four-minute round. The eighth round lasted four minutes when the officials failed to ring the bell. He won that round convincingly and went on to get the nod by a 96-94 margin on two cards, while another judge gave it by the same score in favour of Rivera.
Ziyad Almaayouf thrilled the crowd with a stoppage win on his debut. The charismatic Riyadh native was in a wild shootout against his fellow debutant José Alatorre. Almaayouf took some damage in the first couple of minutes, but he had too much for the game Alatorre, who was stopped with five seconds of the opener after two one-twos and a straight right hand finished the fight.