A withering rain of blows has seen Britain’s Anthony Joshua retain his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight championship belts after vanquishing Russian Alexander Povetkin with a barrage of blows that ended the bout in the seventh round.
Joshua improved his record to 22 fights unbeaten in his professional career by handing the 39-year-old Povetkin only his second defeat but his first by TKO.
Returning to the Wembley arena where he knocked out Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in April, 2017, and became the unified heavyweight champion, Joshua was given a hero’s reception by the almost capacity crowd.
However, early on it was the smaller challenger who appeared the more inspired when he caught the Briton late in the first round with an uppercut on the nose.
Both men had won Olympic gold medals but it was the youthful energy of the 28-year-old Joshua which proved decisive as Povetkin visibly tired during the contest.
Joshua began dictating with his movement from the fourth round and started to find his range with his right hook.
That was what did for Povetkin, the WBA mandatory challenger, in the seventh when a fearsome right-hander from Joshua landed square on his jaw and sent the Russian to the canvas.
He got back to his feet but not for long as an onslaught of punches from the champion led referee Steve Gray to intervene one minute and 59 seconds into the round and give Joshua his 21st win by knockout.
“Povetkin is a very tough challenger, he proved that tonight with good left hooks and counter punches,” Joshua said from inside in the ring.
“… It could have been seven, maybe nine, maybe 12 rounds to get him out of there but the ultimate aim was to be victorious.
“I got my knockout streak back.”
The fight is the first of a two-match deal Joshua has agreed to stage at Wembley, with the second due to take place in April next year.
“If I had a pecking order it would be Wilder, Dillian (Whyte) and then Fury,” Joshua told taskSPORT.
“Dillian deserves it more than Fury because he’s been consistent and Wilder because he’s the champion.”
However, his plan to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion may have to wait a little longer as WBC title holder Wilder announced earlier on Saturday a showdown with former world champion Fury on December 1 in the United States.