A year's worth of pent-up anger produced the biggest - and nearly quickest - win of Claudio Marrero's pro career, needing just 90 seconds to dethrone previously unbeaten featherweight titlist Carlos Zambrano.
The Fox Sports 1-headlining clash ended in the blink of an eye, with a left hand shot putting Zambrano down and out in their main event Saturday evening at Sam's Town Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"There's so many emotions going through my head right now, that I still can't wrap how it feels to be a champion now," said Marrero of the win, his eighth straight. "I won't let it distract me, because I'll fight whoever is the best in my weight class. I knew what kind of fighter I was going up against and I knew what had to be done. I was hungry."
That hunger came from being strung along by Zambrano and his handlers ever since their fight was ordered a year ago by the World Boxing Association (WBA). A litany of excuses followed, from timing to injuries to visa issues.
Along the way, Zambrano signed with Mayweather Promotions, thus giving him leverage in dictating when the fight would take place. All the promotional muscle in the world couldn't save the 32-year old Peruvian once the opening bell sounded.
"I told everyone I was going to make that man pay for making me wait this long to collect my title," Marrero told FightNights.com. "I did just that."
It wasn't long-form torture but instead a quick hit. Marrero - a 28-year old Dominican southpaw who lives and trains in Miami under the watchful eye of the criminally underrated head trainer Herman Caicedo - was prepared to punish Zambrano over the long haul but his sharp skills and reflexes produced a sudden ending to the title fight.
A perfectly placed left hand shot dropped flush on Zambrano's chin, sending him to the canvas to the first time in his career. He was unable to steady himself, leaving referee Vic Drakulich no choice but to bring an end to the contest, hardly a memorable U.S. debut for the exiting champ.
The official time was 1:30 of round one.
Zambrano's two-year title reign comes to a crashing halt, as does his time as an unbeaten fighter as he falls to 26-1 (11KOs). While signing with Mayweather Promotions last summer was supposed to help raise his profile, he wasn't done any favors by anyone on his team by having not fought since a points win over Jose Sanmartin in Aug. '15.
"After being inactive for a year, of course my timing was a little off I am not happy at all with my performance," Zambrano admitted afterward. "This is a fight that was long awaited and I know Marrero has been eyeing me for a while, so it's just unfortunate the way things ended.
"I need to come back to the states and find sparring partners who can really help get me to the level that I want to be. or my record to be beaten at this point, its just really disappointing I have no other words to describe it."
As for Marrero, there's no time like the present.
"I've waited too long for this moment, and I'm not going to sit around waiting for my next opportunity," Marrero told FightNights. His previous outing came last August stopping countryman Luis Hinojosa in four rounds in front of an NBC Sports Network-televised audience live from the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.
At the time his intention was to pursue a rematch with Jesus Cuellar, the only boxer to hang a loss on Marrero's ledger which came in their Aug. '13 vacant title fight. His title reign has since come to an end, suffering a heartbreaking loss to Abner Mares last December.
"Cuellar made me wait, which is why I went this route," Marrero explained, as he holds an interim version of the WBA "Regular" title currently in the possession of Mares. "Winning this belt makes me the mandatory challenger to the winner of Mares and (reigning WBA "Super" champion Leo) Santa Cruz rematch. So yeah, I definitely want the winner of that fight.
"I also want Gary Russell Jr., assuming he takes care of business versus his mandatory (Oscar Escandon). The other champ too (Lee Selby) - just bring me all them belts. It's strap season at Caicedo Sports Gym"