Tyson Fury was a unanimous points winner over Kevin Johnson in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on Saturday night.
It was a disappointing 12 round contest, but the victory means Fury is one fight away from becoming mandatory challenger for the WBC heavyweight title, currently held by Vitali Klitschko.
Johnson, who lost in 12 rounds to Klitschko in December 2009, had never in 31 fights been knocked down and that record was not threatened.
Fury was never able to shake his American opponent, and he only occasionally produced combinations to bring his fans to their feet.
Indeed, frustration got the better of the Mancunian in the seventh round when he was deducted a point for punching on the break.
After the fight, Fury, from Manchester, nonetheless talked up his title ambitions: “Credit to Kevin - he came over here. I didn’t go in there to knock him out, because I knew he was a world-class fighter who makes you miss.
“I didn’t let my heart get to me, I knew that would be a war and I outboxed him.”