George Groves beat Martin Murray by unanimous decision in a must-win super-middleweight contest in London.
The pair have had seven unsuccessful world title challenges between them and a tight contest was predicted.
But Groves landed more the regular and telling blows and was awarded the verdict 118-110 by all three judges.
Chris Eubank Jr successfully defended his British middleweight title for the first time with a fourth-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Tom Doran.
'It was make or break'
Groves, 28, was knocked out twice by Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014 and outpointed by WBC super-middleweight champion Badou Jack last year.
"I think I performed great, but I got caught with punches," Groves told Sky Sports. "Martin Murray is a class act and should be a world champion.
"It was make or break, but I had him out on his feet. That was my first step up since losing to Badou Jack. I did well but hats off to Murray. What a performer."
Murray, 33, has come up short in three middleweight world title fights and was also outpointed by Germany's WBA super-middleweight champion Arthur Abraham in his most recent fight.
Groves, defending his lightly-regarded WBA 'international' belt, looked the sharper in the first three rounds but Murray got a foot-hold in the fourth, pinning his opponent in the corner and unleashing a barrage of blows.
The Londoner's seasoning at the higher weight became evident in the middle rounds and he wobbled Murray with a right uppercut at the end of the seventh.
Murray appeared to be fully recovered by the ninth but he was stiffened by a left-right combination at the end of the round and staggered to his corner.
But just when the St Helens fighter looked like he might be spent, he landed with a couple of monstrous right hands in the 10th, which Groves did well to absorb.
Murray continued to search for a knockout blow over Groves' low left hand in the last two rounds but it was Groves who landed with the more telling shots.
And when the final bell sounded, Murray was almost out on his feet.
'I'm not ready to retire'
Following his defeat, Murray said he would not be quitting boxing.
"I got beaten by a better man. He was good and he hurt me a couple times," he told Sky Sports.
"I'm gutted. I'm sorry I didn't do enough today and I got beat clearly. But I'm not ready to retire.
"People say George Groves is finished but he proved he's not and I definitely have so much more to give."
'Gennady Golovkin - I'm coming for you'
Eubank Jr, 26, was fighting for the first time since winning the British middleweight belt from Nick Blackwell, who was put into an induced coma after the contest having suffered bleeding on the skull.
Blackwell woke from his coma a week later without requiring an operation, although he has been forced to retire.
Eubank's father, Chris Eubank Sr, admitted he lost his ruthless instinct after his 1991 rematch with Michael Watson, which left the latter with life-threatening injuries.
But Eubank Jr was as effective as ever against Doran, dropping the Welshman three times before the referee called a halt to proceedings.
Eubank is targeting a match with WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who is undefeated and has 32 knockouts from 35 fights.
But, having taken some solid shots from the unheralded but game Doran, challenging the Kazakh knockout artist is likely be a step up too soon.
"It's all about making statements," Eubank Jr told Sky Sports. "I feel I'm at world level now and can be challenging for world titles.
"Gennady Golovkin - everybody's scared of you but I'm coming for you and I'm coming for your belts."
Whyte, Ogogo and Benn win
Dillian Whyte returned to action following his defeat by Anthony Joshua last December with a sixth-round knockout of the Czech Republic's Ivica Bacurin.
Birmingham super-flyweight Kal Yafai continued his serene progress in the pro ranks with a first-round stoppage of Hungary's Jozsef Ajtai. Yafai, 27, is unbeaten in 19 paid fights.
Former Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo got his stop-start career back on track with a first-round victory over Croatia's Frane Radnic.
Ogogo, 27, forced his opponent to retire in his corner to improve his pro record to 10 wins in as many fights, with six of those by knockout.
Conor Benn, son of former two-weight world champion Nigel, made it three wins out of three with a savage knockout of the Czech Republic's Lukas Radic.
But former Commonwealth light-welterweight champion John Wayne Hibbert was stopped on a bad cut in the sixth round by Italy's Andrea Scarpa. The Essex boxer, 31, hoped a victory would lead to a world title shot.