In the end, all the hype and hoopla of the past two months, all the puerile posturing and unsavoury bad-mouthing came down to just seven minutes and 53 seconds with David Haye retaining his WBA heavyweight title by stopping Audley Harrison in the mismatch we all suspected it was destined to be.
The fight was halted by the Puerto Rican referee Louis Pablon, Harrison not having thrown a single punch, knocked down in the third round and ultimately rescued as he reeled drunkenly from a somewhat belated belabouring from a champion three stones lighter and 10 years younger. The souped-up enmity between the two concluded after two rounds of such inactivity from both men that the referee had to call them together to tell them that this was actually a fight.
It was Haye who got the message, having thrown only one punch in the opening round and just a couple in the second as they kept each other at bay exchanging only grimaces and tentative prodding. It was all pawing and pussy-footing. Haye's game plan was crystal clear; he chose his moment to jump in, unload a barrage of punches to Harrison's head, a right then sending the former Olympic champion to the floor. He rolled over on his back and rose, reluctantly it seemed, at nine. A few moments later he suffered another pounding, a dozen or more blows, lefts, rights and an upper cut leaving him dazed and befuddled. The referee's intervention was inevitable.
Haye had kept his word to be fast and furious, although the opening two rounds had so little action that the crowd booed and jeered both men.
It is easy in hindsight to say this was a ridiculously one-sided match-up but the 39-year-old Harrison had talked many into believing he had a puncher's chance. But what is it they say about sound and fury signifying nothing? Sadly it was the same Aud Harrison, negative and not relishing a turning-up of the heat. He never once used the left hook he vowed would nullify Haye's Hayemaker.
In fact, he never used anything at all. As a challenge for boxing's supreme prize, it was all rather pathetic.
Haye says he will soon go to Hollywood where Harrison has made his home. His ambition, he says, is to be the first black James Bond. First, though, is a mandatory defence against Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan, whom he should beat easily, then as he only owns a portion of the heavyweight crown, he hopes to claim the rest from one or both Klitschko brothers.
Haye said: "I am convinced I can crush anyone in the world. I can punch and land punches whenever I choose to – that is why this fight went to the third round. I put a lot of money on the third round, a lot of my friends and family did so I didn't want to let them down by doing him too early.
"I told everyone I would knock him out in three rounds and that is exactly what I did. No way was he going into that fourth round. That is how confident and in control I am. I could have taken him out earlier.
"I knew the boos would turn into cheers in a matter of minutes," he added. "I knew it wouldn't go further than three rounds. I didn't give him the opportunity to throw that left hand.
"Next year, I promise it will happen [Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko] – there is nowhere else for those guys to go. They are fighting all the guys everyone's bored of. They have no other options, they have to come over and sit around a table and talk sense. I guarantee I will give them the same treatment Audley Harrison got."
Harrison said: "I'm not going to make any excuses, he caught me with a good shot and I went down and got up. I started a bit slow, the plan was to take David into the later rounds and the deep end, he just caught me with a good shot. I didn't get the chance to dig in and take it to the later rounds, didn't get the chance to put my strategy in. I didn't really get going."
George Groves, who beat James DeGale, the Olympic champion, as an amateur believes he can do the same now they are professionals. But he almost had to put that ambition on hold when, defending his Commonwealth super middleweight title against the also previously unbeaten Kenny Anderson, he found himself on the floor for the first time in his career. Groves took an eight-count in the third round when stunned by a left hook from the marauding Scot, himself a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist, before he finally put together a fierce fusillade in the sixth round, forcing Anderson to take a battering on the ropes.Reuse content