Carl Frampton stopped Luke Jackson in the ninth round of their featherweight contest at Windsor Park in Belfast on Saturday night.
The win sets up a shot at the IBF title held by Leeds boxer Josh Warrington.
Frampton, 31, dominated throughout and Jackson’s corner threw the towel in as the home fighter teed off on the previously unbeaten Australian.
The Northern Irishman dropped his opponent a round earlier with an explosive body shot.
The two-weight world champion produced an impressive performance in front of 24,000 fans, many of which were soaked by a Belfast downpour.
IBF world featherweight title-holder Warrington was ringside in Belfast and after the fight Frank Warren, promoter of both fighters, confirmed that the pair will meet for Warrington’s belt during 2018.
‘Frampton v Warrington is on’ – Warren
Frampton and Warrington expressed an interest in making the match-up happen while Warren said the fight will happen “definitely this year”, adding: “It is on.”
“This was unreal,” Frampton said. “The atmosphere was special, the crowd was fantastic and they made my dream come true. It was unbelievable from start to finish.
“I know myself I still have it but I have to prove it with performances like that. Warrington is a different fight all together I know that. I want it and it’s an easy fight to make. It makes sense.”
Warrington added: “He performed well. He looked nice and relaxed in there and I am looking to get the fight.
“I have got a lot of respect for him but this is boxing and you want to fight the best.”
Following on from his victory over Nonito Donaire in November, this was another technical masterclass from Frampton.
The interim WBO title-holder’s shot variety and elusive footwork ensured he controlled proceedings from the opening bell, with Jackson’s brightest period coming in the opening exchanges of the fifth.
With his right opponent’s eye closing over, Frampton landed a shuddering uppercut in the sixth before a left hook and a body shot sent Jackson to the canvas two rounds later.
The Australian’s hands dropped in the next round, forcing his corner to intervene and end the contest, giving Frampton his first stoppage since beating Chris Avalos in February 2015.
‘Encouragement for Warrington’
Former world middleweight champion Andy Lee on BBC Radio 5 live:
Josh Warrington will be encouraged with what he saw tonight. Not the most perfect performance. There were moments of Jackson success as Frampton has some marks on him. In the end, his extra size and class proved the difference. He probably felt Jackson’s power and knew he couldn’t be hurt.
Former flyweight world champion Dave McAuley on BBC Radio Ulster:
Carl was a lot better than Jackson. I do firmly believe he will beat Josh Warrington. If I were Warrington, Carl Frampton would be the last person I would fight, especially in a voluntary defence.