Reigning unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) was largely sluggish against heavy underdog Alexander Povetkin (34-2, 24 KOs) for much of Saturday’s fight at Wembley Stadium in London, but more than 80,000 fans celebrated when Joshua turned up the heat and became the first man to knock Povetkin out. It took seven rounds, and there’s a strong argument that Joshua was behind at the halfway mark, but when you have earth-shattering power and elite finishing instincts, you can erase prior struggles real quickly.
Round 1 saw Joshua land early with a body shot-left hook combination, but before the round could end, Joshua was staggered by jab-uppercut-hook combination that bloodied his nose. He looked uncomfortable in the aftermath of that sequence, and decided to settle down by jabbing Povetkin throughout round 2, but Povetkin still landed good shots. Povetkin was largely the aggressor in the early stages, leaping into left hooks a la Joe Frazier, and having a speed advantage. Povetkin was cut around his left eye as a result of a Joshua punch, so both men were rendered bloodied.
Joshua was content to lead primarily with his jab, while Povetkin was active throwing a lot of power punches, although his accuracy through rounds 4-6 wasn’t as good as 1-3. There were also signs that Povetkin was starting to lose steam as a result of the numerous body shots from the Brit. In round 7, the tide turned for good, as Joshua rocked Povetkin with a massive right hand, then unleashed a left hook-right hand combo that sent him tumbling to the canvas. Povetkin was tangled up with the ropes and struggled to get up, but he did beat the count. Shortly thereafter, Joshua teed off on a badly hurt Povetkin and the fight was rightly waved off by the referee. Povetkin’s corner, who seemingly (illegally) tried to help him up after the knocked down, also wanted the fight stopped as Povetkin ultimately dropped back to the canvas again.
Joshua is scheduled to return April 13th at Wembley Stadium, and now we wait for Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury to clash on December 1st for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title.