American Paulie Malignaggi went to Ukraine on Sunday as an opponent for WBA welterweight titlist Yvacheslav Senchenko but managed to turn the tables on the local man, walking out of Donbass Arena in Donetsk with the WBA belt in his possession.
Former IBF light welter champ Malignaggi had previously won three straight contests since moving to welterweight but was widely seen as on the down side of his career following his failed 2010 bid to unseat WBA light welter kingpin Amir Khan.
Yje light-hitting Malignaggi was the mandatory challenger for the title and was not given much chance at defeating Senchenko, who captured the WBA strap in 2009 against YuriyNuzhmemko and had retained the title three times.
But Senchenko's level of opposition faced during that time was far below world class standing and that lack of experience was brought to light by Malignaggi in the very first round.
Malignaggi pierced Senchenko's defense with the jab and exploited the openings that punch created with superb right hands that seem to surprise the champion. Senchenko fought back with right hands of his own but the shots could not put a dent in Malignaggi's ambition.
By the middle rounds, Malignaggi's offense was too much for the champion to handle and soon Senchenko had a badly injured eye, resulting in the contest being stopped at 1:10 of the ninth.
Malignaggi produces an unexpected victory on hostile ground, improving to 31-4 (7), and winning a title in his second weight class.
Senchenko suffers his first loss, dropping to 32-1 (21).
The undercard saw former European featherweight champion Oleh Yefimovych, 22-2 (11), continue his comeback by pounding out a 12 round unanimous decision against Sergio Carlos Santillan, 29-12-3 (14), in defense of the WBA Intercontinental belt.