Raymond Ford knew he couldn’t risk leaving the outcome of his fight with Otabek Kholmatov in the hands of the judges.

On Saturday at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, he recorded what may be reflected on as the knockout of 2024.

With just seven seconds remaining of the 12th round of their fight for the vacant WBA featherweight title – the previous 11 had been competitive – he recorded the most dramatic of stoppages of his 25-year-old opponent.

On such moments can careers be made or broken. O’Shaquie Foster’s reputation was transformed when in October, while trailing on the scorecards that night in Cancun, Mexico, he stopped the Mexican Eduardo Hernandez to defend the WBC super featherweight title. In 2008, when Shane Mosley’s options were becoming limited, he stopped Ricardo Mayorga even later than Ford defeated Uzbekistan’s Kholmatov, and he therefore fought Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao during his following four fights.

At 24 Ford is considerably fresher than was Mosley, but profiles can surpass the importance of titles, and his has been enhanced overnight even more than was Foster’s.

“I knew I had to stop him,” said Ford, from Camden, New Jersey. “The rounds were too close. I just had to bring that dog out that my coaches were talking about. I always knew I had it in me. I come from a rough background. There’s nothing that can stop me. Ever.

“I started off a little slow. I felt I didn’t really have the energy and the legs to be the sharper boxer I know I can be. That was due to a tough weight cut. So, this may be my last fight at 126. Then, we’ll go up to 130 and call out the champions there.

“My coach told me to bring that dog out. We knew we were coming into their territory. This wasn’t under our promotion [Ford, of Matchroom, was fighting on a Top Rank bill). But we had to dig deep. The whole time in the corner, I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to stop him’. I felt him breaking down as the rounds went on.”

Luis Alberto Lopez had earlier defended his IBF featherweight title, via an eighth-round stoppage of Japan’s Reiya Abe.

“I turned and looked at my family, my baby, my wife and my mom and dad, and that was the key to my motivation,” the Mexican said. “I knew I had to finish the fight.

“Abe was a warrior. He was able to continue with his eye shut. He continued fighting with a lot of heart. We know that Japanese fighters have a lot of heart. But I also have a lot of hunger to continue being a world champion, and I had to show that.

“Like I have been saying, it would be great for me to unify. But I would also like to have a fight at 130lbs. If they put me in against the winner of Oscar Valdez and Liam Wilson – that would be stupendous.”