Timothy Bradley sent Junior Witter to the canvas before triumphing by a split points decision to win the WBC light-welterweight title at the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday.
Bradley floored the Englishman in the sixth round but the champion regained his composure before the American edged it 115-113 and 114-113 to 115-112 on points.
Witter had been favorite to win the fight and stay on course for world title unification fights and improve his hopes of one day fighting British rival Ricky Hatton. But Bradley shattered Witter’s dreams with a polished performance of aggression and accurate punching.
Victory for unbeaten Bradley improved his record to 22-0, while Witter slumped to 36-2-2, with his first defeat since losing on points to American Zab Judah for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) version of the world title.
Witter could not seize control of the fight after adopting a cautious approach.
It was an impressive first professional fight outside of his country for Bradley, who lifted his first world title.
Witter, 34, looked sharp in the first round when he knocked Bradley off balance with a hook to the temple. Bradley, 24, gave Witter some trouble in the fourth before the champion restored order in the fifth with a straight left.
The first big shot of the fight was landed by Bradley, who unleashed a looping right to the temple that sank Witter in his own corner although the English fighter got up to take an eight count.
Bradley landed more big blows and at the end Witter lost a decision that he could not complain too much about.