Anthony Joshua KOs Alexander Povetkin to retain world heavyweight titles
Anthony Joshua knew the Wembley crowd were demanding a crushing knockout victory over Alexander Povetkin.
And the 29-year-old Londoner duly delivered with an epic seventh-round blitz, finishing off the Russian 1min 59secs into it to successfully defend his WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO crowns.
He will now go after a clash with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, or Tyson Fury if, as expected, the pair get it on in December.
But for this week at least he can be seriously delighted with a job very well done against a tough, tough man.
This was Joshua’s second outing at Wembley Stadium after his sellout clash with Wladimir Klitschko here in April last year.
He’d been on the road to Cardiff for his two fights since then, against Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker.
And while the 29-year-old failed to set the Principality Stadium alight in either of those two fights, he still managed to keep that revered ‘0’ on his record and take Parker’s WBO title in doing so.
Kiwi Parker became the first man to take Joshua the distance in March with Joshua subsequently admitting he’d perhaps taken an eye off his immediate opponent with the prize of a clash with Deontay Wilder expected to follow.
Despite all the talk — and, as ever with boxing, there has been plenty of it — the Wilder fight still hasn’t been made and he is expected to announce a battle with Fury will take place on December 1.
The majority of fight fans hope the man who triumphs in that meeting will be Joshua’s opponent back here at the national stadium on April 13 in a winner-takes-all contest.
It would have been easy for Joshua to see Povetkin as a similar stepping-stone fight towards the bout that will see one man crowned the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
So there was plenty of danger ahead and he knew it as he made his way to the ring with the best part of the 70,000 here carrying him in on their cheers.
Joshua suspected Povetkin, who many people believe should not have been fighting at all after failing two drug tests in 2016, would not throw that many punches.
That he’d wait to pick his moment then try to land the sort of blow that would take a 100-year-old oak tree from its routes, let alone another human being.
He knocked David Price into the following week when they met on the undercard of Joshua-Parker, although last night’s opponent has always been of a different class to his countryman.
But even though Joshua, with his four-inch height advantage, started the fight brighter, Povetkin caught him with a big right uppercut and followed up with a left hand which wobbled the champ’s legs right at the end of the first round.
Povetkin targeted Joshua’s bloody nose early in round two as the home fighter worked behind his jab to try to settle himself into the fight.
Both found a way through as the third began in a fight which had long since shown it wasn’t going to go the distance.
Povetkin was cut around his left eye as Joshua continued to jab his way back into the fight and the Russia began to look like he had expended a lot of energy in those early rounds.
A big left followed by a right uppercut from Joshua had the crowd on their feet as he looked to move through the gears but Povetkin followed him, impressing with his counter-punching.
However impressive it was, it was nothing on what AJ concocted in the seventh.
A big right rocked Povetkin, then a left and both hands rained down until he crashed to the canvas.
He beat the count but only just and Joshua finished him off seconds later.