Josh Taylor clinched a historic victory over Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas on Saturday to become Britain's first undisputed boxing champion in the four-belt era.
The 30-year-old Scottish fighter knocked down Ramirez twice on his way to a unanimous points verdict at the Virgin Hotel in Nevada.
All three judges' cards gave the fight 114-112 to Taylor, meaning he is now unbeaten in 18 fights and becomes the first Scot to be undisputed world champion since Ken Buchanan returned from Los Angeles with two belts 50 years ago.
“I’ve trained my whole life for this moment. I’ve dedicated my whole life for this moment," Taylor said after the fight. "I’ve dreamt of it so many times over. I’m so, so happy. I’ve over the moon, man. I’ve trained for this moment all my life.
“I thought the scorecards were a little tight. I thought they were well wider than that. I wasn’t too happy with the selection of the judges, but I wasn’t going to moan. I was confident in winning this fight anyway.”
Ramirez, 28, suffered the first loss of his career in his 27th bout – the Mexican-American had previously only been knocked down twice in his entire career.
The victory means Taylor retains the IBF and WBA titles while adding the WBO and WBC belts to his collection.
He becomes only the fifth fighter to hold all four belts in a division after Ukrainian Oleksandr Osyk (cruiserweight), and American trio Terence Crawford (welterweight), Jermain Taylor (middleweight) and Bernard Hopkins (middleweight).
Ramirez actually had the upper hand early on, landing good shots on Taylor in all three of the opening rounds.
But the fight was turned on its head when Ramirez was knocked down in successive rounds. Taylor’s big left counter cross to the jaw dropped Ramirez early in the sixth round and he landed a brutal left uppercut in the seventh. The second knockdown left Ramirez badly dazed, as referee Kenny Bayless had to ask him twice to step forward without stumbling.
“After the fifth I was thinking: ‘Man, I’m doing really well.’ But obviously his confidence grew after those knock-downs," said Ramirez. "That was my mistake. I had to try take control multiple times because of my lack of discipline in the clinching.”
There had been needle between the pair before the bout with Taylor abusing Ramirez and threatening his manager on Friday but there was respect shown by both fighters afterwards.
“It was just part of the mind games to get inside his head to make him more eager to jump in on me, to use his aggression against him,” Taylor, who apologised to his opponent after the fight, said. “It worked perfectly. But I have nothing but love and respect for Ramirez. He was a great champion and a great ambassador for the sport.”
“He showed respect,” Ramírez said of Taylor’s apology. “He showed it was him being a competitor throughout the week. He wanted to win so bad and get in my mind.
"If he acts like that he’s not really worth that much. But I’m glad I was able to see the real side of Josh Taylor after the fight.”
Next up for Taylor is a move up to welterweight where he will come up against the likes of Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.
“I would like to go up to 147 and chase big fights like Crawford,” Taylor said. “I am not going to call him out, he is a great fighter, but two undisputed champions going at it would be awesome.”