Anthony Joshua has emphatically knocked out Alexander Povetkin in the seventh round with a deadly left and right hook combination at Wembley on Saturday night.
Povetkin showed early signs of danger by making Joshua stumble in the first round with a wicked left hook before blood poured out of the nose of the champion.
Joshua started to dictate the pace as the rounds went on before going on to overpower and knock Povetkin down to the canvas twice in the seventh round.
Report to follow.
It also sent a message to Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury – as they approach their rival world title fight on December 1 – that he is the man to beat – and against whom to make the most money.
A fight against either on the next designated Wembley date of April 13 would be to find the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis.
As Joshua basked in his triumph of inflicting the first KO of Povetkin’s distinguished if somewhat drug-stained career, he insisted that his preference is to do battle with Wilder.
If that bitter negotiation can be sealed it would lift the roof – if Wembley had one which would have kept out the rain this night.
The defence of his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles was cloud-bursting enough of itself.
It was made all the more explosive because he had to come from behind on many cards at ringside, mine included.
How the official judges had him ahead is a mystery, given that Povetkin had the better of four of the first six rounds and had staggered Joshua early on.
The smaller Povetkin had come burrowing through the giant Joshua reach to land a succession of mighty right and left hooks, despite being cut by one meat-cleaving blow from the champion.
But then Joshua landed the mightiest right of all. Povetkin staggered back and was flattened by the punch storm which followed.
With great courage he untangled himself from the ropes and somehow beat the count. To his own punishing end.
Joshua is one of the best finishers in boxing when he has a man in trouble and when another flurry ended with yet another right hook from hell Povetkin’s corner and referee Steve Gray combined to call a halt.
As Joshua said: ‘I came to have a fight this time.’ That he did. How they love him when he does.
The faithful proved hardy, turning out in their tens of thousands in the rain. The grey, seeping clouds hung so low that their base barely cleared the top tier of the stadium.
The precipitation was mostly of that fine, drizzling variety which insinuates itself through the clothing, almost unnoticed.
The irony would not have been lost on those way up in the nose-bleed cheap seats that it was the rich closer to ringside who were getting the wettest.
The humming bird buzz peculiar to this venue warmed up the atmosphere, in hopeful anticipation that AJ would deliver on his promise of a KO thriller.