Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) got back to his destructive knockout best when he became the first man to stop Russian Alexander Povetkin (34-2, 24KOs) in the seventh round at Wembley Stadium, London, England.
After a slow and troublesome start the IBO, IBF, WBO and WBA World Heavyweight champion was able to re-adjust and finish off the 39-year-old veteran in seven rounds.
On a cold and wet evening in London 70,000 fans arrived with the expectation that Joshua would make light work of Povetkin, but to everyone’s dismay it was the Russian that started the brighter.
The opening exchanges were cagey as both fighters tried to feel their way into the fight. Joshua was working behind his jab targeting the body but it was Povetkin that landed an eye-catching uppercut that wobbled the champ right on the bell.
Joshua looked worried as he came out for the second round with a bloodied nose as a result of the Povetkin uppercut. The Russian was buoyed by the sight of blood and was a constant threat on the inside. A three punch combo which ended with a right hand won the round and silenced the thousands in attendance.
The champ found his range in the third managing the keep his menacing challenger behind a better, busier and more accurate jab.
In the fourth Povetkin continued to look dangerous but got caught with a well timed uppercut that opened a small gash on his left eye. Joshua continued to target the body but switched to the cut and got caught with a left hook.
‘AJ’ was definitely feeling more comfortable in the fifth sticking behind the jab but wasn’t looking for any big shots. He was either being extra cautious or maybe setting traps for later in the fight. Povetkin was now struggling to get in on the inside but did catch Joshua with a left at the bell.
British boxing’s golden boy was really starting to show his class by the sixth and you can’t help but be impressed with the way he adapted after a turbulent start. A right hand rocked the ‘Russian Vityaz’ who started to look a bit desperate.
Into the seventh round and Joshua followed up his left to the body with big right hand that rocked Povetkin back before landing a left. With the challenger in trouble he nailed him with another right, left combo that puts him down.
Povetkin shows amazing courage to get back on his feet but the referee should have probably stopped him from receiving further punishment. Joshua showed he’s learned from previous encounters as he patiently and brutally ends the fight with another right, left combo.
After his 22nd professional victory the unified Heavyweight Champion said:
“Povetkin is a very tough challenger, he proved that with good left hooks and counter punches,” said Joshua.
“I came in here to have fun, and give it my best. I knew he was strong to the head but weak to the body. I was just mixing it up.
“It could have been seven, maybe nine, maybe 12 rounds to get him out of there, but the ultimate aim was to be victorious. And I got my knockout streak back”.
When asked who he wanted next on April 13 back at Wembley Stadium, he said:
“If Dillian wants to fight here, he’s more than welcome. My number 1 choice is Wilder and my second…forget my second or third, we’ll leave it at that.”