BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Carl Frampton left his home fans singing in the rain as he halted Luke Jackson in nine rounds at a wet Windsor Park on Saturday.
The two-weight world champion delivered the performance his home-city fans had turned up to see in Belfast, and the weather did not stop dampen the spirits of the crowd of 25,000 at the outdoor soccer stadium.
Jackson is not a leading light in the featherweight division, but a first defense of the fringe WBO interim belt was still a significant step toward fighting the elite in the 126-pound division for Frampton.
The Northern Ireland boxer dominated Australia's Jackson, who was put on increasing pressure from the fifth round and was floored in the eighth round before the finish in the ninth.
Frampton (26-1, 15 KOs), a former junior featherweight and featherweight world titleholder, made a patient start, and Jackson (16-1, 7 KOs) bravely absorbed a lot of punishment before his corner threw in the towel as he was being driven across the ring by hard shots that landed flush.
Frampton's most likely next move will be an all-British clash with IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington, of England, perhaps at the Manchester Arena in December.
The pair have the same promoter, Frank Warren, and the fight would offer Frampton the chance to become a three-time world champion. Warrington, who was ringside, outpointed Wales' Lee Selby for the belt in May and has not fought since.
Fighting at Windsor Park fulfilled a lifetime ambition for Frampton, but he also craves a third fight with Mexico's Leo Santa Cruz, the WBA champion, and winning a world title will give him some leverage if that fight is ever going to be made.
Frampton, who beat Santa Cruz for the WBA title before losing a rematch in January last year, said: "Me and Josh Warrington are both with Frank Warren, so hopefully we can make a fight. I would love to be world champion again.
"Josh Warrington is top of the list, that fight is the easiest to make and I'm as keen as mustard, so let's do it.
"These are my prime years, I feel good. I have never felt better than I have with the team around me at the moment. I felt so relaxed against Jackson, I was able to try things out. Luke would have stood in there as long as possible, he's very tough."
Frampton, 31, comfortably beat former champion Nonito Donaire in April that proved more of a test than Jackson could muster.
But fighting at the national stadium was something Frampton was desperate to do, and he ensured there was no anti-climax by breaking Jackson's stubborn resistance.
"I was having a meal beforehand with my wife Christine and I was so nervous, the chicken was shaking in my hand," Frampton said.
Jackson, 33, from Tasmania, had never fought outside Australia or against an elite boxer like Frampton before but showed plenty of ambition.
Frampton made a patient start but looked a bit frustrated at the end of the second round after being unable to fluently land the combinations he wanted.
The Northern Irishman did land a decent left hook in the second and regularly caught Jackson on the counter in the third round.
Frampton's corner dealt with a cut over the right eye in the third round before the home hero came alive in the fifth round. The Belfast boxer began landing vicious shots, especially with the right to the body, and Jackson did well to survive the storm with just a bloody nose.
Frampton kept up the same level of intent in the sixth round, landing a sweet right uppercut and boxing immaculately behind his jab.
Those who had seats on the pitch, without cover, did not seem to mind the heavy rain as Frampton rained down blows on Jackson who did not look so keen in the seventh round.
Frampton landed plenty of good shots in the eighth, and the Australian's resistance finally broke when he sunk to his knees from a left hook to the body.
There was less than a minute left and Jackson survived but in the ninth Frampton resumed the beating. Jackson's head was snapped back by a left hand after a series of unanswered punches and the Australian's corner sensibly threw in the towel to stop the fight.
In the undercard, Frampton's lifelong friend Paddy Barnes was chopped down by a wicked shot to the solar plexus by WBC world flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales in the fourth round.
Barnes (5-1 1 KO), 31, from Belfast, was well in the fight with Rosales but was left pole-axed by the right to the body with less than 10 seconds remaining in the fourth.
Rosales (28-3, 19 KOs), 23, once again silenced the home crowd after he won the title by traveling to Japan to beat Daigo Higa in April.
The Nicaraguan triumphed at the third attempt on British soil after two previous trips to the UK ended in defeat to Andrew Selby and Kal Yafai, now the WBA world junior bantamweight champion.
Rosales made a good start to his first defense and unloaded fast combinations a few times when Barnes retreated to the ropes.
Barnes, who calls himself "The Leprechaun," was challenging for a world title in only his sixth professional fight but had a distinguished amateur career.
And Barnes, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, was better in the second round, when he planted his feet to land some big right hooks.
Both were happy to trade in toe-to-toe exchanges from the second round, and the entertaining fight seemed evenly poised when Rosales unloaded a body shot that left the Northern Irishman in agony on his back.