With blood streaming out of his busted nose, Anthony Joshua was in deep trouble once more in front of 80,000 stunned spectators at Wembley Stadium.
Alexander Povetkin, a 39-year-old Russian with supposedly his best days behind him, was dominating heavyweight boxing's new superstar with his powerful inside work and punching power.
Like 17 months ago when he was knocked down by Wladimir Klitschko in the same venue, Joshua was looking vulnerable. And just like that career-defining night, he came through.
Joshua slowly picked off a tiring Povetkin and delivered a brutal finish in the seventh round to retain his WBA, IBF, and WBO belt.
The end was emphatic, and trademark Joshua. A left hook left Povetkin open and Joshua followed through with a straight right that sent the challenger to the canvas. Povetkin had his head through the ropes at one point but he managed to get to his feet, only for Joshua to pile in with a flurry of punches that caused the referee to step in and stop the fight with 1:01 left in the round.
"There is a lot of pressure, the whole country is rooting for me," said Joshua, whose phenomenal pulling power has seen him attract almost 400,000 spectators to his last five fights. "The energy in here spurs you on and you do feel that pressure, I'm not going to lie."
Joshua's record moved to 22-0, with 21 wins coming inside the distance. He is booked to return to Wembley on April 13 for his next bout, and the plan is for the opponent to be either WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder or former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Asked in the ring who his preferred opponent would be, Joshua said: "My No. 1 would be Wilder, let's not talk about a No. 2 or 3."