Andy Lee put his first defeat behind him and came back with a bang, stopping Willie Gibbs just before the final bell in Limerick.
The 24-year-old gave his supporters some cause for concern in the latter stages as his eyes watered from a series of right hands before he felled Gibbs with a left and a further barrage led to the American’s corner throwing in the towel.
For a much-hyped prospect coming off his first defeat as a professional Lee demonstrated few scars as he got down to business from the start with his rapier right lead.
Gibbs, the smaller of the two, was easily picked off by southpaw Lee who circled the ring before unloading his quick assaults and then skipping out of range.
The only concern for Lee in the early stages was a cut around his right eye that continued to bleed throughout the contest and he also required stitches in a further cut on his forehead after a clash of heads in the final round.
Gibbs simply couldn’t get in range to pose a real problem for Lee until the eighth when he got through with one of those right hands.
Lee’s work had become a little ragged and the pattern continued in the ninth and tenth.
If there are not doubts then certainly questions are starting to be asked about how well Lee takes a punch and he was quickly on his bike in the tenth when Gibbs troubled him with a left hand and his overhand rights.
But Lee, who tired in the last third, closed the show in style when be brought about the stoppage with just 14 seconds remaining.
Lee said: “Manny (Steward) didn’t hang around in giving me an easy fight. After the loss to Vera he gave me my toughest opponent yet in my home town - he tested me and I came through it.”
Lee was being lined up for a meeting with recent world title challenger Randy Griffin but due to the stitching needed in his two cuts the Limerick man will probably have to wait until late September or early October for his next fight.
Steward re-emphasised his belief that Lee is back on track to become world middleweight champion.
Steward said: “I believe that Andy Lee is the best middleweight in the world and he will be world champion in 2009.
“He got put off track after losing to Vera but he’s back and with more experience he’ll be ready to win the world title next year.”