Anthony Joshua retained his WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight titles despite suffering a suspected broken nose during the early stages of a 10th-round stoppage win over a bloodied Carlos Takam in Cardiff.
Joshua's flawless professional record now stands at 20 victories and as many knockouts, but this was not a display to stand alongside his statement triumph over the great Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April.
An accidental clash of heads in round two left the 28-year-old Briton mopping blood from his nose and mouth - Joshua claimed the nose was broken in his post-fight interview - and Takam felt his wrath two sessions later when a short left hook dropped him to the canvas.
From that point, the Cameroon-born Frenchman, a late replacement at 12 days' notice for injured IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, found himself on the receiving end of sustained punishment.
The 36-year-old, whose professional record slips to 35 wins, four defeats and a draw, responded with a display of incredible bravery and appeared to inconvenience Joshua with a pair of overhand rights in round seven.
It was sluggish stuff at times from Joshua after the 2012 Olympic gold medallist tipped the scales at a career-high 18st 2lbs but a barrage of head shots persuaded referee Phil Edwards to spare Takam - prematurely in the view of many in the 75,000 sell-out crowd - after one minute and 34 seconds of the 10th.
While many disagreed with the stoppage, former world champion and Sky Sports pundit Carl Froch felt the referee did the right thing.
"Sensible people that watch boxing would not argue with that decision. The barbarians - I am a barbarian, I like barbaric finishes after watching Mike Tyson over the years - like to see barbaric finishes. It was a solid performance - rounds in the bank, on this stage," Froch told Sky Sports/
"I think Howard Foster jumped in at the right time [in my first fight against George Groves] and I thought Phil Edwards jumped in at the right time [in Joshua vs Takam]. You cannot argue with the decision. It was a great decision. There was only ever going to be one winner. Both men really fought well tonight. Takam could have pulled out with those cuts.
"Overall, a very good performance. He was looking flat. In the last nine minutes, he's 254-pounds and worked very hard, he had to fight from round two when there was a head clash. I've got nothing but boxes ticked for Joshua. Nothing but praise. It was a solid performance - rounds in the bank, on this stage. It's onwards and upwards for Joshua."