Anthony Joshua produced the performance of his career to add the WBA world heavyweight title to his IBF crown with an enthralling knockout win over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium.
A post-war record 90,000 fans at the national stadium were treated to a see-saw contest, Joshua dropping the former unified world champion in the fifth round, before being put down – for the first time in his 19-fight career – in the sixth.
Both men looked in danger of being stopped over two rounds which will live long in the memory, before Joshua delivered the clinical blows in the 11th.
The Briton landed a brutal uppercut which gave him the platform to send Klitschko down with an immediate flurry.
‘Dr Steelhammer’ stood, was dropped by a left hook again moments later, and then stood again, only for referee David Fields to save the challenger when pinned against the ropes.
Joshua threw his arms into the air as roars rolled down the Wembley tiers. He had come through his stiffest test to date, while Klitschko had answered questions of his own, showing he remains competitive at world level, even at 41.
He will rue not finishing the job when he floored Joshua and appeared tantalisingly close to reclaiming two of the titles he lost in his last fight against Tyson Fury in 2015.
“What can I say? 19-0, three and a half years in the game,” said Joshua. “I’m not perfect but I’m trying, and if you don’t take part, you’re going to fail.
“As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and you respect your opponent. So a massive shout-out to Wladimir Klitschko.”
Analysis – ‘Those punches came from the depths of his soul’
BBC Radio 5 live boxing commentator Ronald McIntosh
“What an epic display of determination and guts from both fighters.
“Joshua was put on the floor for the first time in his career and he got through that test.
“We have to ask, is it the end of the road for Klitschko or do we want to see it again?”
Former world champion Richie Woodhall
“There comes a time in a boxer’s life where no amount of training or sparring will help.
“There comes a time where it comes from within. It is DNA, or whatever you want to call it.
“Those punches came from the depths of his soul.”