Lucian Bute of Montreal gave fans in his native Romania what they wanted — a quick, decisive victory over Jean-Paul Mendy of France at Bucharest.
Bute (29-0, 24 knockouts), the International Boxing Federation super-middleweight champion, dominated the previously unbeaten Frenchman through three rounds and then dropped him with a left cross in the fourth that sent Mendy face-first onto the canvas.
He was counted out by referee Marlon Wright as the 8,000 fans went into a frenzy in the Romexpo arena seats.
With Romanian flags waving in the seats, a clearly emotional Bute took a microphone and said he was "proud I made the Romanian people happy."
It was a mandatory defence against 37-year-old Mendy (29-1-1), who became the IBF's No. 1 contender a year ago in a victory by first-round disqualification over Sakio Bika in an elimination bout.
Bute is expected to face tougher competition in his next fight Nov. 5, when he is slated to take on former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik. He is then on tap to face the winner of the Showtime specialty channel's Super-Six final Oct. 29 between Andre Ward and Carl Froch.
The 31-year-old was the heavy favourite in the eighth defence of the IBF title he won in 2007 and showed his superior speed and skill early in the battle of southpaws.
He won the first three rounds handily, rocking Mendy with his trademark uppercuts in the second and third rounds, following the latter with a hard left to the head and a solid body shot.
The fourth was relatively quiet until, late in the round, Bute finished off a right-left combination with a short, stiff left that looked to have Mendy out even before he hit the floor.
"Lucian controled the fight," said his trainer Stephan Larouche. "It could have been complicated, but he boxed well.
"He had good defence. He controlled his distances. He was quicker."
Bute has fought out of Montreal since 2003 and has boxed as a pro outside Quebec only five times, but it was his second trip to Romania. He also won by fourth round KO against Donny McCrory in Galati, Romania, where he was born, in 2005.
When plans for a match with highly regarded Mikkel Kessler fell through, Bute opted to fulfil a dream by defending his title in his native land. He looked to be in tears as he waved to the crowd after the fight.
"The intensity of the atmosphere was electric," added Larouche. "It reminded me of Europeans when they win the World Cup. This was their World Cup. The match was shown on a giant screen outside and we went out to see the crowd. They were all singing. They were so proud."
In the co-feature, Romanian featherweight Viorel Simion won the minor WBC International title when he dropped defending champ Jun Talape of the Philippines with a painful body shot in the ninth.
Rising light welterweight prospect Pier-Olivier Cote (17-0) of Quebec City scored an eight-round unanimous decision over Pedro Navarrete (26-12-3), and middleweight Renan St. Juste (23-2-1) of Repentigny, Que., got an eight-round decision over Jaudiel Zepeda (12-5-1).