Anthony Joshua delivered a stunning finish to stop a game Alexander Povetkin and retain his world heavyweight titles at Wembley Stadium.
The IBF, WBO and WBA champion, criticized in some quarters for failing to finalize a deal with the division’s other high-profile names, responded emphatically with a seventh-round stoppage of the Russian, who had never been beaten inside the distance.
After an early chess match in which Joshua suffered a bloodied nose before cutting his rival, the Briton grew in confidence and a savage right hand followed by a left hook began an onslaught which would prove telling.
Another right-left combination downed Povetkin, who somehow made the count, only to stagger into a left hook which saw him slump into the ropes, leaving referee Steve Gray with no option but to intervene.
Roars poured down to ringside as the rain had all day, with Joshua’s corner ecstatic and rightly so. His display showcased poise, intellect and power, sending a message to the heavyweight division that the champion will take some stopping.
Joshua, who had been suffering from flu during his preparations and had a problem with his right hand before the fight, paid tribute to his opponent.
“Povetkin is a very tough challenger, he proved that with good left hooks and counter punches,” he said.
“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,” added Joshua, who was taken to 12 rounds for the first time in his previous fight against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in Cardiff in April.