Three-belt unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua retained his titles on Saturday with a seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin before an
Joshua, 21, an Englishman who improved his record to 22-0 with 21 knockouts, fought with a bloody nose from the second round on. However, midway through the seventh, he hurt Povetkin, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist with a hard right hand, and followed up with a thunderous combination to send his opponent to the canvas.
Povetkin (34-2, 24 KO's), 39, of Russia, rose to his feet, but was on very wobbly legs. Then, Joshua, who captured Olympic gold in 2012 representing his native United Kingdom stepped on the gas pedal and pounded Povetkin as he lay on the ropes, collapsing again on his back as referee Steve Gray stopped the fight.
“I realized he was strong to the head, but I know that he was weak to the body,” said Joshua. “So instead of jabbing to the head I was just switching up and every jab takes a second of breath out of you; it slows him down. It could have taken seven, maybe nine, maybe 12 rounds to get him out of there but the ultimate goal was to be victorious tonight.
“These shorter guys they’re very good coming through the middle. But let’s not worry about that. Tonight’s out of the way. Let’s figure out what’s happening April 13. That’s what we want to know.”
Joshua will return to the ring on the aforementioned date at Wembley Stadium, but who he will fight is another question. The fans want to see Joshua face WBC beltholder Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KO's) who will put his unbeaten record on the line against another fellow undefeated fighter -- Tyson Fury -- on Dec. 1.
“[Wilder and I] both done a lot of talking,” said Joshua. “Look, I’m not into the blame game. It was him, it was me, tit for tat. We both done a lot of talking. And I’m here now. I had a good fight. I got my knockout streak back. I found my right hand. It went missing for a little while. I found it and it’s lining up April 13.”
There were negotiations during the summer, but talks fell through after Wilder's team voiced their frustration over their low-ball offer. Moreover, the WBA stepped in and gave Joshua a 24-hour deadline back in June to sign a deal to fight Povetkin, which gave Joshua's side little choice.
The scorecards at the time of the stoppage were 58-56, 58-56, 59-55 all for Joshua. FightNights.com had Povetkin ahead 58-56 at the time of the knockout.