Paulie Malignaggi defeated Vyacheslav Senchenko by a ninth-round technical knockout to take Senchenko’s WBA welterweight title Sunday in Donetsk, Ukraine, Senchenko’s home country.
Referee Steve Smoger stopped the fight because Senchenko’s left eye was swollen shut.
Malignaggi (31-4, 7 knockouts) appeared to be winning the fight at the time it was stopped, having worked behind a consistent jab to outwork Senchenko. However, a number of rounds were close.
The eye began to bother Senchenko (32-1, 21 KOs) around the sixth round and got progressively worse, which prompted him to become more aggressive out of a sense of urgency.
But Malignaggi was more effective in the closing rounds as Senchenko struggled to see, landing effective shots to the eye and elsewhere.
Malignaggi landed a hard right to the head on Senchenko’s blind side shortly before Smoger stopped the fight.
Malignaggi, from Brooklyn, has now won major titles in two weight classes. He held the IBF junior welterweight title in 2007 and 2008.
Senchenko, who had never lost a fight, was making the fourth defense of his 147-pound title.