In an exciting bloodbath, Bermane Stiverne earned a sixth round TKO over Chris Arreola to capture the vacant WBC heavyweight belt before 3,992 fans on Saturday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, California.
However, losing 48-47 on two scorecards, Stiverne landed a brutal right hand in the sixth that floored Arreola.
With a shattered nose and wobbly legs, Arreola regained his footing and continued to scrap.
Unfortunately for the native Californian, Stiverne again dropped Arreola and referee Jack Reiss mercifully halted the butchery at 2:02 of the decisive frame.
"I studied his tapes. I knew I could knock him out," said Stiverne, 35, the first Haitian-born heavyweight titleholder. "He busted my lip but he never hurt me. I was patient. When he got too comfortable I landed that shot. I knew I could knock him out."
Stiverne is expected to next battle mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder in the late autumn.
Regardless of who emerges victorious between Stiverne and the 28-year-old Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs), Wladimir Klitschko is destined to unify all the titles in the spring of 2015.
A prizefighting icon, the 38-year-old Klitschko (62-3, 53 KOs) pulverized Alex Leapai last month to successfully defend The Ring, WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight crowns.
Currently ranked third in the pound-for-pound rankings, Klitschko has triumphed in 20 consecutive outings since suffering a TKO at the hands of Lamon Brewster in April 2004.
Without much drama, Wladimir Klitschko will knock either Bermane Stiverne or Deontay Wilder onto Queer Street roughly a year from today.