By Chris Williamson, photos by Lawrence Lustig
Unified WBA ’super’, IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua retained his titles with a vicious seventh round knockout over mandatory WBA challenger Alexander Povetkin in front of another huge crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Povetkin, a former WBA ‘regular’ champ and 2004 Olympic champion was stopped for the first time in a long professional career.
First blood went to the Russian challenger who landed a beautiful left hook, right uppercut, left hook combination at end of first, before jolting the champion with a solid right in the second.
Joshua quickly regained some control by boxing smartly behind his jab as Povetkin continued to land the crisper punches in the early rounds, including a hard, fast left hook in the third.
The champion, clearly weary of Povetkin’s power, was boxing as carefully as he had done through his professional career as ‘Sasha’ bobbed and weaved, closed the distance and landed short hooks with both hands.
By the sixth round, Joshua was smartly avoiding the challenger’s left hook, circling away and keeping the right hand higher while peppering Povetkin with his jab and landed his trademark right uppercut.
When the finish came in the seventh, it was brutally efficient. A three punch right, left, right combination had Povetkin reeling before a straight right and left hook floored the Russian. With the challenger rising unsteadily to his feet, referee Steve Gray looked closely at the dazed Povetkin before allowing the fight to continue. The relentless Joshua wasn’t about to let the hurt Russian off the hook, with a final right and left hook flooring the challenger again as the referee called an end to the bout.
Joshua, now 22-0, was born just ten miles away from here, scene of his most famous triumph eighteen months ago against long-time former champ Wladimir Klitschko set his sights on arranging a full unification match for all the titles against the winner of WBC champion Deontay Wilder’s defence against ‘linear’ champ Tyson Fury, confirmed for December 1st on the eve of this clash. A Wembley date of April 13 is already booked for Joshua’s next outing.