Tony Bellew reignited his world-title chances with a stunning fifth-round TKO of Danny McIntosh to regain his British light-heavyweight crown at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
Bellew, out of action since losing his unbeaten record to Nathan Cleverly at the same venue for the WBO 175lb title in October last year, shook off the ring rust with a clinical performance in front of his hometown fans.
Bellew knocked down the challenger in round four and a brilliant overhand right ended the contest immediately after.
The Bomber improved his record to 17-1, with 11 knockouts, and he will surely be champing at the bit for another shot on the world stage.
A return bout with Cleverly is perhaps the most obvious choice but Bellew insisted prior to this fight that the Welshman has thus far shown little interest in engaging hostilities once more.
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old has not let future lucrative bouts affect his preparation in his build-up to facing McIntosh, who fell to 13-3.
Bellew labelled his domestic rival "pathetic" for failing to turn up to Wednesday's press conference and vowed to make him pay in a bout that was supposed to take place two weeks ago but was suspended after McIntosh picked up a chest infection.
After a tentative opening in which both men landed decent right hands, Bellew stepped up his effort to deliver on his promise.
The Liverpudlian used his accurate jab to good effect and landed several crisp combinations before an overhand right hand towards the end of round two staggered McIntosh, who barely survived as Bellew went for the kill.
The champion was landing at will in the third round and McIntosh took to spitting out his gumshield after another concussive right hand found its mark.
He was down in round four after being pummelled along the ropes, but Bellew was denied the chance to end the fight by the bell once again.
McIntosh would not be saved a third time as Bellew ended an explosive contest with a tremendous finish.
Lunging forward, McIntosh left himself wide open and Bellew took advantage in clinical fashion with a right hand that sent the 32-year-old sprawling, with referee Terry O'Connor calling an immediate halt to proceedings 38 seconds into the round.
After his triumph, the Liverpudlian was again sceptical of chances of fighting Cleverly in a rematch before goading the Welshman for his bout with the unheralded Tommy Karpency in February.
"I don't need Nathan Cleverly to make a name for myself, or a living,'' said Bellew.
"You've seen who he's fighting - he's fighting number 83 in the world.
"I'm supposed to be the one coming in off the loss and I'm fighting a former European champion and he's fighting 83 in the world.
"I don't want to go on about it. He is what he is, he's fighting who he's fighting. I just want to fight people who test me.
"I want to see how good I am, I want to see where I can go and I just want to test myself to the limit.''