Joshua retains heavyweight belts with savage KO
BRITAIN'S world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was shaken early in his title defence against Alexander Povetkin but responded like the star he is to savagely KO his Russian opponent at Wembley Stadium.
Joshua - who retained the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation titles - was bleeding from his nose after being hit by an overhand right in the opening round.
Joshua, 28, had admitted to feeling under "tons of pressure" as he returned to the scene of arguably his greatest triumph, an 11th-round stoppage of former champion Wladimir Klitschko last year.
And he was likely behind on the scorecards halfway through the fight as the challenger looked like shocking the world.
Joshua said he was sticking to a plan of breaking down the Russian with shots to his body but there was real concern in his camp. "I was just thinking, please don't slip up now," Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn said.
Joshua looked like a man still only in his 22nd fight for much of the encounter but like he has done throughout his young career he found a way to win.
"Alexander Povetkin is a very tough challenger he proved that tonight," Joshua said. "I came here to have fun, do what I have done in the gym ... he was strong to the head but weak to the body.
"I got my knockout streak back," he added. "I found my right hand again."
But Joshua seized on the tiniest of openings in the seventh round to stun Povetkin with a straight right, before unleashing a series of furious punches to put him on the canvas.
Povetkin made it back to his feet after almost falling head-first out of the ring but it was only a matter of seconds before he was down again and the referee waved the fight over. It was the first time the Russian had been stopped in his 36-fight career.
It was another invaluable learning experience for the biggest star in British boxing and will prepare him well for a mooted fight with unbeaten American Deontay Wilder.
Wilder announced a fight with lineal champion Tyson Fury in the US in early December. Joshua said he wants Wilder in April next year.
"If I had a pecking order it'd be Wilder, Dillian (Whyte) and then Fury, because Dillian deserves it more than Fury," Joshua said.
Fury was unimpressed with Joshua's performance Povetkin - and his declaration the Gypsy King was third in line for the next shot at the title.
"I think it's fair to say Team Joshua and (promoter) Matchroom Boxing will never fight the Gypsy King - ever," Fury said in an Instagram video.
"It's all right fighting men (who are) 39 years old (who are) half your size ... tonight is pure evidence I'm fighting the best heavyweight out there in Deontay Wilder.
"Joshua's not even close. He's slow, methodical, ponderous at times. Powerful, yes, but they all are.
"If I was you, Joshua, I'd avoid me because I will jab your face off, you bum ... I've never seen a bigger bum in my life."