London, UK : Anthony Joshua has handed his mandatory challenger, Russia’s Alexander Povetkin his first knockout defeat in his career by way of a knockout in the seventh round, to retain the WBA, (Super) IBF, WBO and IBO belts.
The win means Joshua holds on to his World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organization (WBO) and International Boxing Organization (IBO) world heavyweight titles.
Britain’s Joshua (born to Nigerian parents) beat the Russian at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.
Joshua was very brutal punching Povetkin in the closing rounds, although Jovetkin too had gotten the better of him in the earlier rounds.
After two slower opening rounds, Joshua found his range in that fight. And it was a series of accurate combinations which did it in the seventh round, first with an overhand right and then some big lefts.
His win has improved his professional career to 22 fights unbeaten, 21 of the fights by knockout.
Joshua is expected to earn £20 million and Povetkin £6 million
On Joshua’s next opponent, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said: “If it’s not Deontay Wilder it’ll be Dillian Whyte. Our sole focus is on AJ being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
“Alexander Povetkin was a tough challenger and he proved that tonight, but my ultimate goal was to be victorious,” said the 28-year-old Briton immediately after his triumph.
He then added that his next opponent might be decided by putting a poll out to his fans on social media.
Joshua was originally in talks to fight World Boxing Council (WBC) title-holder Deontay Wilder on this date for the right to be called undisputed heavyweight champion, but contract negotiations broke down. Wilder will now face Joshua’s British rival, Tyson Fury, on December 1 in the US.
“My number one [challenger] next would be Wilder,” said Joshua.
“But I don’t care who wins, good luck to both of them.”
Povetkin, who was suspended from the sport in 2016 for returning two positive drugs tests in the space of 12 months, suffers only his second loss in a 36-fight career.
It is also the first time the Russian has been halted before the final bell.
However, he gave Joshua some early problems to deal with as he bloodied the champion’s nose in the second round.
Returning to the scene of his epic battle with heavyweight great Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017, Joshua approached Povetkin with caution, pushing him back with his jab.
But Povetkin landed the first telling blow with a left uppercut and short right hand at the sound of the first bell.
Povetkin, who is ranked as the third best heavyweight in the world, made the blood pour from Joshua’s nose in the following round with a stiff right hand.
The former world champion, who was unbeaten for five years, piled on the pressure with vicious intent as he relentlessly came forward, launching his signature left hook, but he couldn’t find a clean hit.
The Wembley stronghold gasped as their heavyweight hero was rocked early in the third round with a thundering right hand from the Russian.
Povetkin leaped forward with his lethal left hand again in round four, which Joshua was quick to avoid as the pace slowed and turned into a physical game of chess with each man figuring out his next move.
And it was Joshua who found the breakthrough in round six with a sharp uppercut followed by a grazing left hook.
A grandstand finish followed in round seven, when Povetkin stumbled after swallowing a strong right hand clean on his chin.
Joshua pounced on the opportunity for the final fatal flurries as Povetkin fell from a right-left hand combination, before another barrage of punches saw another vital test passed for Joshua in his quest for the undisputed championship.