Tyson Fury had chopped away for the best part of 11 rounds when a stubborn Deontay Wilder finally toppled for good.
The gutsy challenger had twice sprung back to his feet as he refused to wilt under pressure from Fury’s 20-stone frame.
Wilder had even dropped the champion himself only to suffer flashbacks to their first clash as the Brit found the resolve to twice rise from the canvas.
But when Fury’s right hand connected for a final time with four minutes of the fight remaining, Wilder’s exhausted mind and body refused to respond.
Referee Russell Mora had also seen enough as he wasted no time in waving the trilogy fight off without a count to bring a concussive end to an exhilarating and breathtaking heavyweight showdown for the ages.
“It was a great fight and worthy of any great trilogy fight,” Fury said afterwards. “He’s got no love for me because I’ve beaten him three times.
Fury was meeting Wilder for the third time in three years following a controversial draw and a concussive stoppage.
The rivals were due to clash last summer but the fight was repeatedly rescheduled until it appeared to be off the table altogether when Fury agreed to fight Anthony Joshua.
But Wilder took legal action in order to secure his shot at Fury – and his old belt.
And it was Wilder who began on the front foot, throwing almost exclusively to the body for the opening minute.
Fury by contrast was slow out of the blocks but did land the best punch of the first round with a straight right hand in the dying seconds.
He repeated the trick at the start of the second round before repeatedly attempting to tie Wilder up on the inside using his three-stone weight advantage.