Anthony Joshua unleashed all Britain’s pent up anger with Russia to produce the most spectacular and important knock out of his booming career.
The nuclear destruction of Alexander Povetkin delivered something even more sensational than the thriller with which he had promised to make amends for his two previous routine wins.
This was the emphatic statement, punched home like a steam piston in his Wembley Stadium fortress, which hallmarks his unified world championship in blood, guts and glory.
The defence of his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles was cloud-bursting enough in 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.
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 ways up in the nose-bleed cheap seats that it was the rich closer to ringside who were getting the wettest.
The hummingbird buzz peculiar to this venue warmed up the atmosphere, in hopeful anticipation that AJ would deliver on his promise of a KO thriller.
The win over Joseph Parker had been a damp squib but there was the promise of fireworks despite the weather. The giant screens showed Joshua looking reassuringly relaxed in the dressing room in the black cap which is his latest fashion accessory.
He wasn’t going to need it in the ring, which was well covered by a canopy. Nor was there any wind of note to blow the rain in under that protective cover. Win or lose, unless the showers suddenly turned stormy, there would be no blaming the result on mother nature.
The stars came out, too. Albeit only from the myriad phone cameras held aloft by the crowd. As the time came near so the cry went up: ‘Oh, Anthony Joshua.’ There was no sign of Jeremy Corbyn in the house with no roof. So no patriotic confusion here.
Povetkin made the long walk to the centre circle to the accompaniment of anti-Russian jeers. Joshua made his entrance preceded by rap star Nas and to a cacophony of cheers – and through bursts of flame.
A cagey opening minute – then Povetkin exploded at the end with a combination culminating in a left hook which wobbled Joshua.
Joshua settled behind his jab, the frequency of which edged the second even though Povetkin landed the meatier dots.
Povetkin kept succeeding in getting in close to the much larger champion and landing right and left hooks to test the Joshua chin. A brief rally at the bell did not rescue the round for the champion.
Povetkin sustained a nasty cut over the left eye. The sight of the blood urged Joshua on to his best round yet, connecting not only with the jab but some shuddering hooks with both hands.
As Povetkin’s corner worked on the eye, referee Steve Gray went to that corner to confirm that the damage had been done by a Joshua punch.
As if anxious as to how long the wound would hold up, Povetkin returned to work with a will and a clubbing right hand from which Joshua’s face began to mark up badly.
Joshua brought out his ‘bad boy’, that right uppercut which had inflicted such pain on Klitschko. But Povetkin not only took it but came blasting back with lefts and rights which stood Joshua open and at risk in his tracks.
A huge trademark right from Joshua sent Povetkin reeling backwards and AJ went for him with a vengeance. Down went the Russia under a half of fire in his corner. Somehow he untangled himself from the ropes and got shakily to his feet. To no avail.
Joshua is nothing if not a good finisher and as he landed blow after blow the referee and the challenger’s corner-men combined to call a stunning end.