Jamie McDonnell got up off the canvas to retain his WBA bantamweight title on his American debut against Tomoki Kameda.
A stunning overhand right sent the Doncaster fighter crashing to the mat in the third round.
But he roared back, finishing an incredibly competitive fight strongly to take a narrow unanimous decision in Hidalgo, Texas.
All three judges handed McDonnell the fight by 114-113.
It was McDonnell’s first real introduction to an American audience, coming on free-to-air television on CBS.
And he both he and Kameda made a massive impression with a enthralling battle that was as tight as the final scorecards would suggest.
McDonnell stayed at distance in the opener, showing strong defence against the lightning fast hands of Kameda. He came forward as the round wore on, landing a lovely short right hook and a right cross in a strong opening to the fight.
It perhaps boosted his confidence a little too much as he was overeager to get involved in the second and was regularly tagged with the rapid jab of Kameda. McDonnell settled as thr round advanced but the Japanese man looked the stronger.
Kameda was cagey to start the third, as if inviting McDonnell on. And when the invitation was accepted, McDonnell walked straight onto a superb right hook that crashed into his jaw and sent him crumbling to the mat. He made the count with relative ease and dealt with the Kameda onslaught which followed.
McDonnell responded with an excellent fourth round performance, forcing the issue superbly while keeping his defences tight. It was here that McDonnell really began to work the body and he seemed well in control ofthe round.
McDonnell walked through a big right hand early in the fifth and matched the intensity of his buzzsaw of an opponent. Kameda just had the edge in terms of successful workrate.
And the former unbeaten WBO champion was in full control of the sixth with his confidence visibly growing as he kept McDonnell comfortably at bay.
Kameda had a commanding lead heading into the second half of the fight but McDonnell came into his own.
He walked Kameda down and reduced the distance for the first time in the fight. Taking the fight in close appeared to take away much of Kameda’s speed and allowed McDonnell to work the body. Success in targeting the ribs was regularly followed up with shots to the head.
Kameda was more aggressive in the eighth but it did not deter McDonnell who walked through a big right to the chin. McDonnell scored some excellent shots as the round wore on and while Kameda finished the stronger, it was the Doncaster man who had the edge.
McDonnell jogged out of the corner at the start of the ninth, epitomising his intent. Both men put in an incredible effort, throwing plenty in an at times scruffy round.
McDonnell’s work rate was superb right through to the end of the fight. Kameda on the other hand looked more sluggish, as if the efforts were catching up on him.
Kameda’s efforts in the later rounds were no concerted enough to stop McDonnell’s charge, one built on consistency.
And in the final round he began to dismantle Kameda, smashing two and three shot combinations in a brilliant effort. Kameda roared back and it became a real slug fest with both men throwing big shots.
The closeness of the bout meant the result was a real unknown as it went to the judges’ scorecards.
But all three opted in favour of McDonnell and all by 114-113 to see him retain his title.