Tony Bellew overcame a scare to claim a 12th-round knockout victory over the durable Valery Brudov on his cruiserweight debut.
Topping the bill in his hometown, 'Bomber' Bellew, fighting for the first time since being stopped by WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson last year, was given a stern test of his credentials by his rugged Russian opponent.
The Merseysider started well and a one-two dropped Brudov on to the seat of his pants in the second round and the 37-year-old veteran was arguably saved by the bell after being dropped by Bellew again in the closing stages of the sixth.
Brudov, who had won 41 of his previous 45 contests before Saturday night, shrugged off any cobwebs and a heavy right hand left Bellew reeling in the seventh, with the 31-year-old barely surviving the round.
Bellew appeared more cautious from that moment on, boxing behind his jab, content to merely win the rounds.
Brudov had to go for broke in the final round, but his brave challenge finally came to an end when he left himself wide open to a left hook from Bellew, who watched on as his dazed opponent was counted out.