Carl Froch finished off Brian Magee with a chilling right uppercut in round 11 to retain his British and Commonwealth super-middleweight titles in a thrilling contest at Bethnal Green.
The force of Froch’s final blow left the Ulsterman flat out on the canvas and requiring oxygen before he was able to rise and take the deserved applause of the York Hall crowd.
Despite being knocked down in the first round, Magee had played his part in a magnificent contest which ought to have given the big-thinking Froch a timely wake-up call.
For all his flashy skills Froch was tagged much too often and cleanly to have genuine hopes of a world title shot at this stage, but the extension of his unbeaten record to 19 hints at his great potential.
Froch was stopped in his tracks on a number of occasions as Magee got to grips with his single countering tactics and gave the 28-year-old quite a few worrying moments.
But there is little doubt Froch showed his heart in the way he battled through easily the toughest test of his career to date to finish the contest with such aplomb.
Magee had shaded the initial moments of a predictably tense contest but Froch landed the first punch of note, his precise right uppercut dumping Magee in a neutral corner.
Froch’s well-regarded power looked at that stage like it was going to trouble Magee, who had never been stopped but was decked four times on his way to defeat by Robin Reid in 2004.
Looking for the big single punch finish, Froch bloodied Magee’s nose with a right hand in round two but the Ulsterman recovered to open a gash beneath the champion’s right eye.
And Magee, gradually warming to his task, arguably had the better of a tight and scrappy third with Froch still relying on fast counter shots and Magee boxing better behind his tight left jab.
Magee certainly fancied his luck by the fourth when a right hand momentarily stopped Froch in his tracks – only for the Nottingham man to respond with a clattering right hook of his own.
And the thrilling action continued in the fifth with Magee slamming home a series of left hands up close and Froch responding again with a right which rocked Magee.
But the momentum seemed to be heading in the challenger’s direction as he outworked Froch and was surely beginning to edge back into contention on the scorecards after his difficult start.
Froch’s unerring accuracy with his right hand got him back on track in the sixth but he was still being tagged far too cleanly to justify the showboating with which he greeted the halfway point.
Froch was stunned again by a Magee left in the seventh and neither man gave an inch in an attritional eighth in which each landed crunching blows to little effect.
Froch gained a potentially crucial breakthrough in the ninth when Magee appeared to be pushed to the canvas but referee Richie Davies gave him a count which scored a two-point round to the champion.
Froch took advantage with a strong 10th and cued up his spectacular finish with a big right uppercut which left Magee flat out on the canvas with his dream in tatters.