Luis Ortiz staked his claim for a clash with WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Tyson Fury after halting Bryant Jennings in the seventh round in New York on Saturday night.
The 36-year-old, who had struggled with a bout of flu leading up to the fight, maintained his unbeaten record (24-0-KO21) and retained his interim WBA heavyweight title in the process.
However, Ortiz is unlikely to be Fury's next opponent with the British fighter set to face former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in a rematch in 2016.
Ortiz, defending his interim WBA title for the first time, made a confident start at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, hurting the 31-year-old early in the first round with a powerful left uppercut.
Jennings, who returned to the ring for the first time since his unanimous points defeat to Klitschko in April, responded in the second round with a flurry of body and head shots, but Ortiz regained his composure and hurt the American (19-2-KO10) once again in the third round with a left uppercut.
The Cuban looked in complete control from then on, landing with quick combinations and showing great athleticism to avoid Jennings' attacks, forcing the stoppage late in the seventh round.
Ortiz firstly sent Jennings to the canvas after landing with two powerful uppercuts, but Jennings was able to get back to his feet following the knockdown. However, after another flurry of punches from Ortiz, referee Dick Pakozdi stepped in and called an end to the bout.