Viktor Postol might not have thought he was going to score a knockout on his way to a world title.
But once he saw favored Lucas Matthysse's chin surge forward in the 10th round at StubHub Center, Postol knew precisely what to do.
His right hand found a tiring and frustrated Matthysse, sending him crashing to the deck with pain in his eye so concerning that Matthysse opted to stay down as Postol was later fitted with the World Boxing Council super-lightweight belt.
"I felt something pop in my [left] eye," Matthysse said after the fight was stopped with two seconds left in the 10th. "I chose to protect my eye.
"I felt there was damage to my eye and I also didn't feel my body. The pain was instant and I knew I had to stop because I wasn't sure what my eye looked like. Fortunately nothing happened."
Matthysse (37-4) not only lost his chance to win his first world title, but also found himself bypassed in the multi-fighter sweepstakes to be the next foe of Manny Pacquiao, a derby that probably counts Amir Khan as the leader now.
Postol said it'd be "my pleasure" to prove himself in a unification bout against unbeaten Terence Crawford.
A distinguished amateur fighter from Ukraine, Postol's stoppage was only the 12th in his unbeaten 28-fight pro career.
He credited his work with trainer Freddie Roach at Hollywood's Wild Card Boxing Club for the showing and the adjustments during it.
Postol started the night with a strategy of jabbing and holding to mute the attack of Matthysse, who produced the 2014 fight of the year in the same ring against John Molina, then engaged in an April slugfest with Russian Ruslan Provodnikov that is one of this year's top contenders.
Matthysse found success with his free-swinging style and appeared to have broken through Postol's nearly five-inch height advantage and complicated style by landing a big right to the head in the sixth, and another in the seventh that wobbled Postol.
By then, Postol's options were shrinking. Referee Jack Reiss disciplined him for holding multiple times, and Postol looked to Roach.
"Freddie told me to box on the inside, throwing short rights," Postol said.
Postol's jabs and follow-up punches were effective in the eighth and ninth and Roach sent his fighter to the 10th, urging Postol to take a more daring route.
"He was dead tired and ready to go out. I told that to Postol," Roach said.
Postol was schooled to know Matthysse had a tendency to be careless when darting forward before throwing a punch, so Postol leaned back, let Matthysse charge and pounded him.
"They made me a champion," Postol said of his corner. "He was perfect for that punch. I knew he'd be there. … The punch felt natural to me because we practice it over and over at Wild Card."
Roach, who also trains Pacquiao, said the triumph was "one of the biggest victories I've had."
After nine rounds, judges Glen Crocker and Steve Morrow had Postol leading, 86-85, and Raul Caiz Sr. had Matthysse ahead, 86-85.
"Postol will be a force in the 140 and 147 divisions," said his veteran fight promoter Bob Arum. "He is difficult to fight against."
Earlier, Mexican super-lightweight Antonio Orozco (23-0) weathered a stiff challenge from veteran former world champion Humberto Soto of Mexico, winning a unanimous decision.
And East Los Angeles' Julian Ramirez improved to 15-0 with a unanimous-decision featherweight victory over Mexico City's Hugo Partida.