Francisco Vargas defeated Juan Manuel Lopez via TKO when Lopez's corner stopped the bout after a vicious third round.
In a round of the year candidate, Vargas (20-0-1, 14 KOs) and Lopez exchanged shots in brutal back and forth action in the third stanza. Seemingly never in a dull fight, Lopez was knocked down with 20 seconds to go in the third after eating a huge right hand. Lopez got up and continued to press, but ate another big shot in the closing seconds and was dazed as he walked back to his corner.
Lopez (34-4, 31 KOs), who won by KO or was stopped in 11 of his 12 world title fights, wanted to continue but his corner decided to stop the contest.
"I knew he was hurt but I know he's a warrior," Vargas said. "My corner was making preparations to be able to knock him out. I won by throwing combo punches to Lopez's upper and lower body. Once I did that, I knew he had lost control.
"I'm very happy for this moment. I want to tell everyone that I'm ready for anybody at 130 pounds."
While it was the biggest victory of Vargas' young career, this could be the end for the road for what has been a brilliant campaign for the former world champ.
"I wanted to keep fighting - I'm a warrior," Lopez said. "But my corner decided it was enough. I really don't know right now if I'm going to retire. I have to sit down with my family and my promoter and decide what the next step will be."