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Anthony Joshua yet again proved he can deal with adversity in the ring. The heavyweight champion survived an early assault from challenger Alexander Povetkin before going on to win the fight with a seventh-round technical knockout on Saturday night at Wembley Stadium.
Joshua unloaded a stunning combination on a tiring Povetkin, ending it with a devastating right hook. Povetkin was able to get up for the count, but was clearly dazed and defenseless, forcing the referee to step in and end the fight.
Here’s how it looked, per DAZN USA:
DAZN USA @DAZN_USA
And STILL …
@anthonyfjoshua stops Povetkin with a 7th round knockout, retaining his heavyweight championships. #DAZN🇺🇸 https://t.co/j4BIUf4XnH https://t.co/l6iWVfkt1T
CBS Sports Brian Campbell and Ring‘s Tom Gray reacted to the end of the fight:
Tom Gray @Tom_Gray_Boxing
Really nice finish by Joshua. That was great stuff. First right hand that put Povetkin in dream land was a peach #JoshuaPovetkin #boxing
Joshua preserved his undefeated record and retains his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles. After the fight, Joshua said on the DAZN the top person he would like to face next is Deontay Wilder, the American WBC world heavyweight champion.
Povetkin had proved himself a difficult opponent, much tougher than the odds would have suggested. He hurt Joshua early and his lunges were hard to time.
Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole felt the 39-year-old Russian exposed some flaws in the champion:
Kevin Iole @KevinI
AJ did what he needed to do, but he showed plenty of vulnerability. Povetkin was way better than I thought he’d be, but in the end, he couldn’t stand up to that kind of power. #JoshuaPovetkin
Povetkin came in as a heavy underdog, but he started the match brightly. A quiet first round ended with a left hook that caused the champion to stumble and turned his nose into a faucet.
Rosie Perez @rosieperezbklyn
Joshua’s nose is bleeding already and it’s just the 2nd! Omg! Another good shot by Povetkin! @DAZN_USA #JoshuaPovetkin @MatchroomBoxing #boxing @SkySportsBoxing
Povetkin’s timing was impeccable. With Joshua struggling to establish the jab, the shorter, stockier Russian was able to get inside his range and land sharp counters. The roaring crowd at the start of the fight had gone quiet. Joshua was clearly in for a tough night.
DAZN USA showed an example of the kind of power punches Povetkin was throwing:
DAZN USA @DAZN_USA
Povetkin lands with a big right. The challenger taking the fight to @anthonyfjoshua in the early rounds.
Get to #DAZN now to watch #JoshuaPovetkin https://t.co/j4BIUf4XnH https://t.co/LNrkfWkpBQ
By the fourth, there was blood on both sides as Joshua opened up a gash over Povetkin’s left eye. Joshua was able to quiet his opponent’s activity in the fourth round, finding the distance on his jab and throwing it more to the body than the head.
Even though he had that key punch working, he struggled to follow it up with power punches. He also had problems on defense, as Rappler.com’s Ryan Songalia noted:
Ryan Songalia @ryansongalia
Anthony Joshua might end up winning but he’s going to take a lot of right hands by the time this fight is finished. He has no defense for that Povetkin overhand #JoshuaPovetkin
In the seventh round the floodgates opened, likely thanks to the consistency Joshua had found in his jab earlier. Joshua wound up and uncorked a devastating barrage of punches, and ended a fight that could have been trouble for him if it had gone the distance.
Joshua showed he has fantastic killer instinct, the kind of intangible that can save him in the toughest fights. The 28-year-old Englishman is rightfully one of the sport’s biggest stars. He has another date set up at Wembley in April.
It will be difficult to squeeze in the winner of the rumored Wilder-Tyson Fury bout, but that’s a fight that should happen sometime in the next year, for the good of the sport.