Anthony Joshua retained his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles with a brutal seventh-round knockout of Alexander Povetkin at Wembley.
Back at the stadium where he beat the great Wladimir Klitschko in an 11-round thriller last year, Joshua again went to the trenches against a high-class opponent.
Povetkin, 39, wobbled Joshua at the end of round one and the champion's nose was oozing blood in the second as he struggled with the Russian veteran's rumbling and relentless attacks.
Some nasty damage above the left eye did not dissuade the challenger and the fight was up for grabs at halfway before Joshua – now with a perfect record of 22 victories from as many professional contests - sensationally took the scorecards out of the equation.
A booming right hand saw Povetkin (34-2) sag and a clean left hook followed by a straight right sent him groggily to the canvas, with no chance of avoiding a first stoppage loss of his career amid the follow-up barrage that followed.
The clamour will now increase for Joshua to face the winner of the December 1 bout between WBC king Deontay Wilder and undefeated former champion Tyson Fury when he returns to this venue on April 13.
Joshua began sharply, clipping Povetkin with a toned-down version of the left hook he would later detonate so concussively.
However, he was staggered as Povetkin found a left of his own, setting the tone for a gripping back-and-forth contest.
The visitor's swarming style, which saw him duck low before springing hooks and overhand rights upon a discomforted Joshua clearly gave him the second.
There was more punishment in three as blood continued to spill over the home favourite's lips, but a Povetkin cut gave him encouragement – a problem he made worse for his rival with a blistering one-two in the fourth.
Povetkin's corner were dealing with potentially fight-ending damage, which prompted their man to tear after an uneasy Joshua in round five. The uppercut that drew roars from the Wembley masses in the sixth had not come a moment too soon.
Perhaps Povetkin should have been more dissuaded than he was as he ended the session strongly. He went looking for Joshua again after a minute on the stool where he would soon be convalescing.
What the veteran found was savage, uncompromising and – from his point of view – not particularly pleasant.
|Foles fuels Eagles´ upset win over Rams|
|Latham carries bat as New Zealand leave Sri Lanka reeling|
|Keep your cool, Virat – Paine and Kohli in another confrontation|
|Depleted Nuggets complete season sweep of Raptors|
|Fabinho was ´outstanding´, says Klopp|
|Patriots QB Brady on loss to Steelers: We aren´t playing well enough to win|
|Elliott says Cowboys´ shut-out loss to Colts was embarrassing|
|De Bruyne not worried about Liverpool title challenge|
|Sixers star Simmons makes history with triple-double|
|WATCH: Nowitzki receives standing ovation in first home game of season|
|Seattle´s playoff spot on hold after Seahawks suffer OT loss to 49ers|
|Cheika survives as Wallabies coach, Johnson appointed|
|Vikings remain in NFC playoff picture|
|Steelers stay ahead as Patriots lose AFC´s second seed|
|Lionel Messi is the best, says Amor|
|I´m still tired just looking at Robertson – Mourinho in awe of Liverpool intensity|
|Casillas takes swipe at Mourinho after United lose to Liverpool|
|Valverde relieved as Messi brilliance prevents another Levante nightmare|
|WATCH: Leno proposes to girlfriend after Bears clinch division title|
|Messi and Suarez the world´s best strike partnership, says Pique|
|Klopp: I cannot keep every Liverpool player happy|
|Messi and Suarez outscoring Real Madrid and Atletico in LaLiga|
|Levante 0 Barcelona 5: Marvellous Messi banishes ghosts of last season|
|Colts rout Cowboys to keep playoff hopes alive|
|Bears shake off Packers to win NFC North and return to playoffs|
|Mourinho explains Pogba omission and defends Lukaku´s Liverpool showing|
|Liverpool´s display against Manchester United one of the best, claims Klopp|
|Look away Jose! Damning stats expose Manchester United´s limp Liverpool loss|
|Time´s up, Mourinho: Manchester United can dither no longer|
|Manchester United´s players are not dishonest – Mourinho|
|Manchester United´s lack of ambition under Mourinho is scary – Keane|
|Mourinho: All Manchester United can achieve is fourth|
|Quagliarella should be protected by UNESCO, jokes Sampdoria coach|
|Manchester United surpass last season´s goals-against tally in first 17 games|
|Hasenhuttl revels in ´unbelievable´ victory over Arsenal|
|Liverpool 3 Manchester United 1: Shaqiri´s late show bails out Alisson as Reds return to the top|
|Edinburgh in control in Champions Cup, Racing win again|
|Emery ponders January signing after Bellerin injury|
|It is only a knock – Sarri plays down Hazard injury fears|
|Redskins QB Alex Smith released from hospital|
|Starc: If I listen to Warne, I may as well retire|
|Curry interviews retired NASA astronaut, apologises for moon comments|
|Hazard refusing to give up on Premier League title hopes|
|Ziyech & Blind score hat-tricks as Ajax claim 8-0 win|
|Canelo v Fielding: What next for three-weight champion Alvarez?|
|Southampton 3 Arsenal 2: Austin and Ings end Gunners´ long unbeaten run|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Chelsea 2: Sensational Hazard proves the difference|
|Pogba on the bench as Clyne starts for Liverpool|
|Lipsky ends long barren spell in Malelane|
|Lakers´ Stephenson to repeat air guitar despite technical|
|Fletcher pushed Miller on to Broncos sack record|
|The Sarri effect: Hazard surpasses 2017-18 goal involvements in just 16 games|
|Van der Burgh retires on a high note with breaststroke double|
|Rashford: Liverpool was never an option|
|No team Liverpool play this season will be as motivated as Man United – Klopp|
|India surprised by contentious Kohli decision - Bumrah|
|The Sunday Seven - 7 Key Opta facts for NFL Week 15|
|Miller eyeing Joshua bout at Madison Square Garden|
|Finch cleared of serious damage after another finger blow|
|Rashford ´untouchable´ because he plays on his limits – Mourinho|
|It´s important to have his mentality - Mayfield thrilled with Kobe Bryant visit as Browns beat Bronc|
|Centurion Latham indebted to ´world-class´ Williamson|
|Spurs´ Dier out until January after appendix removal|
|A-League Review: Glory down Jets to stay unbeaten|
|Philander ruled out of first Test|
|Controversial Kohli dismissal puts Australia in command|
|Thunder´s Westbrook: ´When we defend like that — best team in the league´|
|Kante at his best further forward, reiterates Sarri|
|Rose capitulates in Indonesia to squander chance to top rankings|
|Fielding: The better man won but I lived a dream|