Anthony Joshua defends heavyweight titles with TKO of Alexander Povetkin in seven

 

Anthony Joshua successfully defended his unified heavyweight crown with a seventh round technical knockout of Alexander Povetkin, on Saturday night, in London, England.

 

The fight was the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card held at Wembley Stadium and streamed live in the United States on DAZN.

 

“He’s a tough challenger; he proved that tonight but I came in here to have fun and do my best. I switched it up and slowed him down,” Joshua said about Povetkin in the post-fight interview, after providing a thrilling ending to an exciting fight against the veteran about the Russian heavyweight.

 

Joshua, 22-0 (21), had a bit of a scare in the waning moments of the opening round, when Povetkin landed a three-punch combination that startled the hulking Brit. Joshua, 28, was quick to say he wasn’t hurt in that moment, in response to DAZN’s Chris Mannix, but his shaky leg and bleeding nose to start the second round would be evidence to the contrary.

 

Povetkin, 39, was the shorter man but there wasn’t much issue finding his range, using Joshua’s jab in the early going, to time some crafty barrages. He even did it without much of a jab of his own and there were constantly looping left and right hooks from Povetkin that buzzed and landed around Joshua’s head. By the third round, the fight was as competitive as could be and because there were heavyweight punches being thrown, it got all that more exciting.

 

The 80,000-plus fans cheering for Joshua, who’s from nearby Watford, made it all that more intense. Joshua stuck to his jab in the fourth but started focusing it on Povetkin’s body from then on. It was a subtle change that didn’t immediately sway the momentum his way but it would soon become the caveat that led to Joshua’s knockout power shots.

 

With the fight seemingly even at the midway point, Joshua cracked Povetkin with a right hand upstairs in the seventh round to change everything. A jab to the body preceded the shot and it sent Povetkin into a tailspin to the canvas for the fight’s only knockdown. Povetkin, 34-2 (24), almost fell through the ropes when trying to get up but he eventually did in time to beat referee Steve Gray’s 10-count. Once action resumed, Joshua patiently stepped toward his weakened foe to throw a few more right crosses and left hooks to Povetkin’s head. Gray stepped in to wave off the fight just as Joshua delivered his final shot, which put Povetkin into a backpedal and eventually onto the mat for good.

 

“A few years ago, maybe I wouldn’t win that fight but credit to my coach Rob McCracken and my team,” admitted Joshua, who retained his unified IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles. With only the WBC belt left for him to claim – which is held by the longest reigning beltholder of the division Deontay Wilder – Joshua left the rhetorical question of whom he wants next to the fans at Wembley, where they’ll be again, on April 13, for “AJ’s” already scheduled next defense.

 

“If there’s no mandatories…Who do you want me to fight here on April 13?”

 

It was announced yesterday by Showtime that Wilder is set to face Tyson Fury on December 1.

 

Topping the undercard, Luke Campbell got his revenge against Yvan Mendy, out-boxing the Frenchman to a unanimous decision win and avenging the first defeat of his career. The lightweight contest was a WBC eliminator.

 

Campbell, 19-2 (15), handled the forward-pressing mauler with an ability to fight off the back foot and keep a comfortable distance. Mendy, 40-5-1 (19), had his moments early and near the end of the 12-round bout but couldn’t match the figurative slicing from Campbell’s scalpel-like left hand. A Olympic gold medalist in 2012, Campbell boxed well out of his southpaw stance and, more importantly, kept the fight from becoming rough on the inside, as it had transpired with Mendy nearly three years ago.

 

Lawrence Okolie won the British Commonwealth cruiserweight title after receiving a unanimous decision victory (116-110, 114-112, 114-113) over Matty Askin.

 

In an ugly fight with plenty of clinching and little action, Okolie, 10-0 (7), not only got the nod but remarkably made it through the 12 rounds with three total points deducted by referee Victor Loughlin for excessive holding. Askin, 23-4-1 (15), wasn’t exactly helping get the separation necessary to keep the fight from being dreadful but was ultimately outworked and out-landed to keep him from keeping his belt.

 

Sergey Kuzmin scored a technical knockout victory over David Price once the latter didn’t come out of his corner for the fifth round. The heavyweight contest was scheduled for 10.

 

Kuzmin, 13-0 (10), was in a close one before the bout was abruptly stopped. Starting in the first round, Price, 35, had some effective combinations that were highlighted by uppercuts and the action prompted the Russian to open himself up and fire back perhaps earlier than intended. The fight turned into a fairly entertaining scrap in the second and Price landed a big right hand in the third to have a slight upset looming. Throwing hooks around Price’s guard, Kuzmin slowly broke him down as a result of the energy spent in the prior rounds. Price, 22-6 (18), who said he had an injured arm after the bout, was grossly tired after the third and before Kuzmin could show any sense of dominance, threw in the towel.

 

In the opening bout of the DAZN stream, Shakhram Giyasov forced a fourth round stoppage of Julio Laguna to earn his fifth victory since making his debut last March. The welterweight contest was scheduled for eight rounds.

 

Giyasov, 5-0 (4), an Uzbek silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, had an aggressive attack that was far too strong for his unbeaten Nicaraguan counterpart. Laguna, 14-1 (10), who was fighting for the first time outside his country, tried to catch and trade with the aggressor, who often times opened himself up but was unsuccessful getting the right connection. Giyasov, 25, hurt Laguna with a right hand, as early as the first round and a sustained body attack in the second and third rounds set up the final moment. In the fourth, a barrage of hooks from Giyasov backed Laguna up and a final right hand to the head dropped him for the fight’s only knockdown, prompting an immediate referee’s stoppage for the technical knockout.

 

 

 

You can reach Michael Baca II at mikebaca2@gmail.com and follow him at twitter.com/mikebaca2

 

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