Another heavyweight fight for the ages, and what a night at the national football stadium as Anthony Joshua finished Alexander Povetkin in a dramatic seventh round to retain his three world heavyweight titles. Twenty-two fights, 22 victories
Having been rocked by the Russian’s hooks at the end of the first round, leaving his nose broken and bloodied, Joshua was acutely aware of the danger of the older, more experienced challenger. Yet after taking Povetkin’s best shots, his left hook straight right-hand combination twice buckled Povetkin and sent him to the canvas. The Russian climbed groggily to his feet, but Joshua took him to task once more, crumpling him like clothes falling into a suitcase for
As predicted, Povetkin was always going to be dangerous but Joshua grew in confidence and finished in style. Heavyweight boxing is about knockouts and he was brutal in delivering it.
Joshua had emerged into the stadium in that white robe, aping Muhammad Ali, looking so relaxed. He raised a white-gloved hand to friends and family sitting ringside, shadowboxed his way to the ring on a hydraulic lift, the biggest commercial commodity in the sport. The big roar went up. Spumes of fire exploded around him but this is now a familiar walk down Wembley way, soundtracked to the chant of ‘O, Anthon-
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It was a cagey start as they felt each other out, a
In the fourth, a brilliant uppercut from Joshua bust the eyelid above Povetkin’s left eye, and clearly it lifted the defending champion. As the fight played out through the fifth and sixth rounds, Povetkin was made to miss more, and when shots did land, the champion simply nodded and waved his rival in. His confidence was growing, and as the older man by 11 years began to tire, Joshua finished emphatically.
When the referee Steve Gray stepped in between them to rescue Povetkin, after the sensational finish, the 80,000
There is so much at stake every time he fights. Millions watched at home in the UK and in the United States, where the Briton with the Adonis-like physique was making his first appearance on the streaming network
Joshua earned £20 million for his night’s work – the Russian heads back east with £6m in his bank account. Joshua knew that he had to be at his best against the shorter, powerful, tank-like build of the man known as ‘the White Lion’, who wanted to get in close, on to Joshua’s chest, and explode with his dangerous arcing left hooks, and an overhand right which had put 70 per cent of his previous opponents to sleep.
In Povetkin, the developing British fighter met a fellow Olympic gold medallist, a boxer with Russian state backing who had admitted leading up to the fight that this was his “last chance at heavyweight glory” at the age of 39, having been defeated just once in a 13-year career of 35 fights, that solitary imperfection to the Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, insisted
There could be a spanner thrust into those works. Just hours before Joshua and Povetkin stepped into the ring, it emerged that a date has been set for the fight between two other undefeated heavyweights in the Briton Tyson Fury and the American Wilder, holder of the World Boxing Council crown. The pair will compete for the WBC world title on Dec 1 in the United States, with the venue to be announced next week. The Sunday Telegraph understands that either Las Vegas or Los Angeles will host the fight.
Whatever happens, the heavyweight division is alive and well. And Joshua is the man they all want to beat.