Anthony Joshua has defended his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles with a seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin at Wembley
Anthony Joshua, for six rounds of his sixth defence, looked as if he might have chosen the wrong old guy to help towards retirement but a right cross on the unattended chin of Alexander Povetkin sparked a savage finish that left the 39-year-old Russian in a heap, stopped for the first time in an illustrious career.
Nearly 18 months after retiring 42-year-old Wladimir Klitschko in the same ring in front of many of the same adoring fans the smiling gift to the heavyweight division resumed his knockout run and now awaits his seventh challenger in his 23rd fight. If there is any logic in boxing, it will be the WBC champion, Deontay Wilder, and a near unanimous response to that effect came from the 75,000 fans who had ignored the light rain when their champion asked from ringside: Who do we want to fight here on 13 April? Wilder! they screamed back.
Tyson Fury is said to be nailed on as challenger for the Americans WBC belt in either Los Angeles or Las Vegas on 1 December but the April engagement would be the real blockbuster.
Joshua, unusually subdued as Povetkin slung quality hooks from both wings at him for the first 20 minutes or so, switched from head to body to slow him down and, in a dramatic finish, threaded a long right on to his chin, followed by a left, to deck him in the seventh. He followed up ruthlessly, the same combination destroying what was left of the challengers resolve.
Alexander is a very tough challenger, Joshua said. He proved that tonight with clever counter-punching. I switched from the head to the body. Every jab takes a second of breath out of you. I had a good fight, got my knockout streak back. Theres a lot of pressure. The whole countrys rooting for boxing. Im a heavyweight, a world champion [owning the four other belts]. So theyre behind me. But its not just about me. Im in it to learn.
As for Wilder and Fury, he said, Good luck to both of them. I wish them well.
Everything is riding on this, Joshuas promoter, Eddie Hearn, told him beforehand. And on they ride. But this fight had its moments of anxiety.
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