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.
|Ronaldo gunning for United, Aguero targets double record - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Ill Vardy couldn´t stomach penalty decision – Puel|
|LeBron´s Lakers lose again, Magic stun Celtics|
|Bartomeu: No Barca return for Neymar, Valverde contracted until 2020|
|Simmons and ´stimulating´ 76ers in NBA Finals mix, says Longley|
|Falcons heap further misery on Giants|
|Vidic hails Ronaldo as ultimate professional ahead of Old Trafford return|
|Warriors´ Cousins nearing NBA return|
|Pogba can´t do the basics – Souness criticises Man United star|
|Messi absence big blow for Barca as Icardi talks up Inter|
|´You can´t cry, that´s true´ – Ronaldo responds to Isco|
|Bartomeu: Barca still competitive without Messi|
|Bills RB McCoy remains in concussion protocol|
|Raiders place Marshawn Lynch on IR|
|Emery calm over title talk after another Arsenal win|
|Green: Warriors have to clean up defensively|
|Mariners say Bolt talks ongoing amid reports contract offer was rejected|
|Proud captain Ozil revels in Arsenal´s ´sexy football´|
|Puel angry over Holding handball|
|Cilic breezes through in Basel, Anderson fights back|
|Ingram: Four-game ban better than we expected|
|Raiders send Cooper to Cowboys for first-round pick|
|Arsenal 3 Leicester City 1: Outstanding Ozil inspires comeback win|
|World Series 2018: Three reasons why the Dodgers will win|
|Yarmolenko out for six months after Achilles surgery|
|World Series 2018: Three reasons why the Red Sox will win|
|Ozil eclipses Klinsmann to become Premier League´s most prolific German|
|Allegri expecting Old Trafford battle against Mourinho´s United|
|Bertens feared she did not belong in Kerber clash|
|Returning Ronaldo expecting ´tough´ game against Manchester United|
|Cristiano Ronaldo confident of clearing his name amid rape allegation|
|Osaka looking to learn from losing start in Singapore|
|Kovac expects tough test against AEK Athens|
|Whyte gives Chisora deadline over rematch|
|Spartak Moscow sack Massimo Carrera|
|Atletico Madrid confirm fresh injury issue for Gimenez|
|Dolberg extends Ajax contract after Real Madrid links|
|Ronaldo an example for Lukaku to follow|
|Bertens battles back to blast past Kerber|
|Ramos apologises for training ground fracas|
|Raikkonen should take heed of Alonso misfortune as F1 career winds down|
|Guardiola wants Manchester City fans to push team to Champions League glory|
|Isco not interested in departed Ronaldo - he didn´t want to be here|
|World Series 2018: Three storylines to watch in Red Sox-Dodgers|
|Neymar focus bad for football - PSG´s Maxwell|
|Marco Ianni charged by FA over Jose Mourinho touchline row|
|Stephens sees off Osaka in see-saw Singapore battle|
|I´m happy at Manchester United - Mourinho dismisses Real Madrid reports|
|Semenya and Asher-Smith head IAAF Female World Athlete of the Year shortlist|
|Mandzukic to miss Manchester United trip|
|I turned down Manchester United to return to Juventus - Bonucci|
|Sanchez out of Manchester United´s clash with Juventus|
|Australia make Short work of run chase in T20 win|
|Brotherly g-love! Tommy Fury follows Tyson into the pros|
|Ozil´s international retirement can help Arsenal - Emery|
|If you sack Lopetegui, you have to sack us all – Isco|
|Lopetegui defiant amid Real Madrid sack reports|
|Sri Lanka spinner Herath to retire after Galle Test|
|Ronaldo returns for Old Trafford welcome amid disquieting noise|
|Garcia claims third Andalucia Valderrama Masters title|
|Ex-England international Waldrom retires|
|´Massive personality´ Hart can lift Burnley, says Kompany|
|Liverpool felt wrath of ´emotional´ Klopp, says Shaqiri|
|Reid: Jenkins capitalised on Kaepernick movement|
|Manchester United v Juventus: Ronaldo out to end dismal scoring record against Mourinho|
|Injured Ribery to miss Bayern´s clash with AEK|
|Wilshere would have stayed at Arsenal under Wenger|
|Mahomes stars again as Chiefs crush Bengals|
|Bolt must accept ´much less´ to join Mariners, says A-League chief|
|Klopp compares Liverpool to dog without favourite toy|