Jesus Soto Karass ended 2013 on his back.
Clearwater's Keith Thurman ended it as arguably boxing's fastest rising young star.
Surviving a punch that wobbled him in the first 30 seconds, Thurman put together the best performance of his career, dropping Soto Karass in the ninth round with a series of hooks and uppercuts at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Thurman, 25, used a sharp left jab and some vicious body punches to wear Soto Karass (28-9-3) down, knocking him down in the fifth round and shaking him at the end of the seventh.
Thurman started the ninth by popping Soto Karass, but the Mexican kept coming forward.
Later in the round, a short right cross put Soto Karass out on his feet, before Thurman leapt in with a left uppercut to knock his opponent down for good.
"I felt I had him hurt," said Thurman, now 22-0 with 20 knockouts. "He was buzzed standing up. And I finished the show. The left uppercut was wide open. I sat down. I dug in. The ref knew it was over before it was even over, baby."
In retaining his WBA interim title, Thurman landed 125 jabs and 135 of his 253 power shots (53 percent).
Though Soto Karass threw 102 more punches (only landing 22 percent), Thurman landed 112 more.
Thurman wanted to end the year positioned for a big money title fight, and Saturday's impressive performance may have set him up for it.
Asked who he wanted next in boxing's hottest division, Thurman said anyone that people want to see.
"One fight at a time, I'm destroying the welterweight division," Thurman said. "I like whatever the fans like. I'm here to entertain."