With a brutal combination of punches in the seventh round, the 28-year-old British boxer brought the veteran Povetkin to his knees. Joshua delivered another thrilling comeback in front of a ruacous home crowd.
World Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defeated Alexander Povetkin with a technical knockout on Saturday night, in front of 80,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, in London. It was a close contest, but the young Brit ultimately prevailed, extending his unbeaten professional record to 22 wins from 22 fights, with 21 knockouts.
The 28-year-old put his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts on the line as he faced 39-year-old Russian challenger Povetkin, whose best days appear to be behind him.
Joshua enjoyed a weight and height advantage going into the fight, not to mention a rowdy home crowd, and was the bookmakers' heavy favorite.
Another strong comeback
But Povetkin dominated his younger opponent with his strong inside work and punching power. The Russian stooped low and rocked Joshua with a right uppercut that left the Brit with a bloody, presumably broken, nose by the end of the first round. Joshua had fought on and won with a broken nose in a previous fight against Carlos Takam.
It was not until the seventh round that Joshua picked off a tiring Povetkin and delivered a brutal finish. With a left hook that made Povetkin vulnerable, Joshua followed through with a straight right, sending the Russian to the canvas. Povetkin managed to get to his feet, but the young Brit delivered a flurry of punches that prompted the referee to step in and stop the fight with 1:01 left in the round.
"Povetkin is a very tough challenger and he proved it tonight," Joshua told Sky Sports. "I realized he was strong to the head but weak to the body," he added.
"I got my knockout streak back, I found my right hand again," the 28-year-old said of his comeback.
Joshua sets his sight on Wilder
The match was almost a repeat of 17 months ago, when Joshua was knocked down by Ukranian veteran Wladimir Klitschko in the same venue, but came back to win the fight in a career-defining moment.
Read more: German pro-boxing on the ropes
"There is a lot of pressure, the whole country is rooting for me," said Joshua, who enjoys a wide popularity, having drawn almost 400,000 spectators to his last five fights combined.
Joshua will return to Wembley on April 13 for his next match and he does not yet have an opponent. When asked about his preference, the young boxer was unequivocal, "my number 1 would be Wilder, let's not talk about a number 2 or 3."
Deontay Wilder is the World Boxing Council title holder and defeating him would make Joshua the undisputed heavyweight champion in the world.
jcg/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)