Carl Froch started as the underdog, was dropped heavily in the third round and was trailing on the scorecards when his fists finally put an end to Jermain Taylor's night with just 14 seconds left in the last round.
Froch retained his World Boxing Council super-middleweight title at Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut with one of the most dramatic finishes to a world title fight by a British boxer in America, and firmly established himself as an international star.
It was never going to be the easy fight that Froch and his people predicted and for long periods the speed, poise and skill of Taylor was evidence of the American's last four years of top -quality opposition. In the opening round the difference in speed, which Froch insisted would never be a factor, was clear to see and Taylor used his solid jab to control the fight. Froch has always been the faster fighter in his previous bouts but not against Taylor, and at no point in his 24 unbeaten fights has he been so easily contained.
Taylor grazed Froch's jaw in round three with a jab and the follow-up right connected cleanly, with Froch going down heavily in his own corner. Froch's eyes looked bright and, as his head cleared, he glanced over at his trainer, Robert McCracken, with a little nod. After just nine minutes, it looked like all of the American predictions of a massacre would come true.
However, Froch is an exceptional fighter with immense talent and heart, and as the rounds slipped by and Taylor seemed to be increasing his lead, there was always the sense that Froch could turn a lost cause around.
A lot will be said and a lot will be forgotten about this fight but by the end of round 10 it looked like Froch was running out of time and options, but in round 11 there was a slight shift in Taylor's movement, a subtle change in the way he moved his feet and let his punches go. There was nothing subtle about the way he fell into Froch when the bell sounded to end round 11.
At this point, two of the three judges had Taylor in front with scores of 106-102, but one judge somehow had the fight scored the same way for Froch, a scoreline that brought a wry shrug from the British fighter and his handlers at the bout's happy conclusion a few minutes later. In the final round of Froch's first defence, he showed the American fight public just what he is capable of and first dropped an exhausted Taylor with about 45 seconds left. Taylor scrambled up dazed and confused, but his pitiful survival was cut short when he fell again in his own corner, and this time the referee waved it off at 2:46 of the 12th.
There was talk after the fight of an attempt to get Joe Calzaghe out of retirement for a showdown at the Millennium Stadium in front of 80,000.
However, a physically exhausted Froch needs a long break and then he needs to get back to America to pick up where he left Taylor late on Saturday night, because there are some big-money fights available for men like Froch.