David Haye delivered the fight he promised, even if he flirted with defeat more than once on his way to forcing the preternaturally courageous American challenger, John Ruiz, to succumb in the ninth round of one of the best world title fights we have seen in these islands for many years.
Haye keeps his WBA heavyweight belt at the first time of asking and Ruiz goes home with the loud cheers of appreciation ringing in his ears for what many might consider foolhardy grit.
The American walked - or rather jogged- to the ring first under the ritual hail of catcalls from a well-refreshed gathering of 20,000 in this most atmospheric of venues, the majority of them rubber-necking to spot the Chelsea and Manchester United stars in the audience.
Rio Ferdinand, who grew up with Haye in south London, was there, along with Wayne Bridge, Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Jamie Redknapp, Daniel Sturridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Haye, who brought more than 70 members of his extended family with him, had looked supremely relaxed when introduced to the crowd at Old Trafford earlier in the day. There was nothing laid-back about the way he started the fight, however.
He put Ruiz down with a corking right hand that went straight through the American's guard in the first 30 seconds. He had him down again almost straight away, this time with a blow to the back of the head. Curiously, the referee, Guillermo Perez Pineda, docked Haye a point yet gave Ruiz an eight-count.
It hardly bothered Haye, who had promised an explosive evening, as he continued to lay into the 38-year-old challenger who, despite carrying a little extra around the middle, looked in terrific shape. The second and third were more even as Haye waited for another opening, landing heavily time after time but taking a few in return as Ruiz regained his composure.
What had looked as if it would be a quick night's work turned into an enthralling contest as Ruiz got his jab working to take the fourth. Haye went back to this corner with a small cut near his right eye and received a stern lecture from his trainer Adam Booth, who urged him to up his work rate and look after his defence.
He responded the only way he knows how with a series of crushing head shots and missed Ruiz with an upper cut in centre ring that would have ripped a hole in a battle ship.
After what Lennox Lewis called his "punch-perfect performance' against Nikolai Valuev last November, Haye was letting his instincts take over and put Ruiz down in the fifth, again with a blow to the back of the head. He was treading a fine line and Booth was not happy as the fight entered the middle stages.
The sixth was another unruly affair and Ruiz was taking an awful battering but was still dangerous. Ruiz had not taken a sustained beating like this in 54 fights over 18 years and the crowd gave him due credit for his bravery.
Haye's right hand, which had broken on Valuev's head, clearly was OK as he threw with enthusiasm from all angles at the pulped-up features of an ageing fighter who was slowly turning into a punch bag. Ruiz, as if on motorised rollerskates, was an almost willing target for Haye's health-threatening headshots as they continued their painful dance until the American's new trainer, Miguel Diaz, mercifully threw in the towel in the ninth round.
Earlier in the evening, George Groves announced himself as another genuine rising star of British boxing when he did to the Commonwealth super-middleweight champion, Charles Adamu, in six rounds what Carl Froch took 12 rounds to do in 2004.
That night, the Ghanaian, seven months after winning the title for the first time, was down once but finished only three points behind the Nottingham fighter. Froch went on to win the world title and is now vying for recognition as the best boxer at 12 stone in the world in Showtime's Super Six series.
Londoner Groves, who has never been past eight rounds, gave Adamu a beating from start to finish and took little in return.
He felled him with a short, chopping right in the first, then stunned him to the soles of his boots with heavy body shots in a neutral corner. But for the Ghanaian's resilience - this was his eighth championship contest - it might have ended right there.
The young challenger had him down twice in the fourth, almost over again towards the end of the fifth and the referee, Victor Laughlin, called it off when Adamu wobbled under another concussive right hand in the sixth round.
He protested but would not have reached the end without taking a lot more of the same. Groves's movement and ring craft bamboozled the 32-year-old, who swung wildly outside an oncoming barrage of stiff jabs, followed by a right hand clearly modelled on Haye's. He beat the Olympic gold medallist James DeGale in the amateurs. They must surely meet one day to make some serious money together.
In the other Commonwealth title fight, at light-welter, Colin Lynes of Hornchurch took a 10 count on one knee in his own corner in the eighth round against the London-based Nigerian, Ajose Olusegan.