Anthony Joshua vs Alexander Povetkin result: Joshua knocks out Russian in seventh round to defend titles

The undefeated heavyweight champion of the world had to work hard at Wembley Stadium to become the first man to stop the obdurate 39-year-old

Luke Brown
Wembley Stadium
Sunday 23 September 2018 04:31
Anthony Joshua celebrates beating Alexander Povetkin

And breathe. In the end we got the explosive finale most had anticipated, but only after six fluctuating rounds which had seriously threatened to halt the Anthony Joshua jamboree. Against the odds Alexander Povetkin briefly rolled back the years with a brave performance befitting of a former world champion, only to fall in the seventh, his final shot at glory extinguished by a barrage of brutal head shots.

For Povetkin, it was the first stoppage defeat of an illustrious 13 year professional career. For Joshua, it was quite possibly his most impressive performance yet and another spectacular example of just what a commanding and canny fighter he is in the process of becoming. The WBA, IBF and WBO titles remain in his possession and — on this evidence — they will not be changing hands anytime soon.

There had been some minor disappointment after Joshua’s previous fight, a wide points victory over Joseph Parker in Cardiff, when he had elected to bestow upon the masses a boxing masterclass rather than a twenty-first consecutive knockout. But there was never any chance of this one going the distance, not after Povetkin’s stinging three punch combination saw the first round phoney war roar into life. From then on, the intensity did not drop until Povetkin did.

Afterwards, a bloodied Joshua had just enough time for a round of congratulatory hugs before a damp microphone was immediately shoved into his face. Naturally, there was precious little time to dwell on this most gruelling of victories. Not when people are already clamouring to know who is next.

“Let’s ask the question, I have no mandatories,” was his somewhat circumspect reply. “The sport is about what the fans want, so let’s put a poll out on Twitter and see who fans want me to take on.” And who do the fans want to see Joshua take on? Deontay Wilder, of course, the wild WBC champion who will next fight Tyson Fury on December 1, most helpfully confirmed by a mischievous Frank Warren on Saturday morning.

When both Joshua and Povetkin had vacated the ring, and their throng of seconds had ceased to take photographs, Eddie Hearn elaborated on what comes next. “Joshua is a real world champion; we will go away now and try and make a fight with Wilder,” he said, somewhere in the bowels of the national stadium at the post-fight press conference. “And if it's not Wilder then it will be Dillian Whyte here on April 13.”

Joshua vs Povetkin

The Independent's unofficial scorecard

R1: Joshua 9-10 Povetkin
R2: Joshua 9-10 Povetkin
R3: Joshua 10-9 Povetkin
R4: Joshua 10-9 Povetkin
R5: Joshua 10-9 Povetkin
R6: Joshua 10-9 Povetkin

There will of course be the usual chorus of social media misanthropes who disregard this latest victory, as they have the others. Who switch off their televisions and turn to their keyboards to hammer out angry messages about Povetkin’s advancing years, unusual urine samples, smaller frame and relative inactivity. Ignore them. Povetkin is a former Olympic and World champion, who had won eight consecutive fights since losing on points to Wladimir Klitschko — the only blot on his copybook until this evening.

He therefore arrived at Wembley demanding respect. He didn’t get it from a hostile crowd, whipped into a Russophobic frenzy by all those eye-raising headlines of the past few weeks. But he quickly earned it from Joshua, first with an uppercut and then a nasty left hook snuck in before the bell rang for the end of the first round. The tone had been set.

For Joshua, it was to get worse before it got better. Too static in the centre of the ring, he failed to fend off Povetkin’s menacing march forward, the veteran too comfortably closing the distance which allowed him to throw wild hooks from up close, crashing hurtfully into their target having flown out of Joshua’s peripheral vision like a boomerang. They were painful shots, with one particularly accurate left hook causing blood to squirt out of Joshua’s nose, previously broken in a fight by the similarly obdurate Carlos Takam.

At this stage the threat was very real, which only makes the gradual way in which Joshua solved the Povetkin puzzle all the more impressive. Piece by piece, Joshua began to recalibrate that snake tongue jab, spitting it into Povetkin’s fleshy body to halt his raids forward. The sight of a jagged left cut appearing above the 39-year-old’s eye only encouraged him further.

Povetkin hurt Joshua early on

This development in Joshua’s style is so heartening to see. The heavyweight risk-taker who so bravely hauled himself off the canvas against Klitschko is these days a very different beast. This is Joshua 2.0, a perspicacious punch-by-punch in-ring analyst who can deconstruct an opponent just as comprehensively as he can destroy them. Cold. Careful. Calculated.

By the sixth round, Joshua was beginning to let the punches flow. Both men exchanged uppercuts although Joshua’s work was by now crisper, leaving a noticeably slowing Povetkin to throw wild, mistimed haymakers which swooshed harmlessly through the damp air. In truth he did well to see out the round, after Joshua drilled two hurtful hooks into his temple.

He did not last much longer. Growing into the contest as quickly as Povetkin was fading from it, Joshua landed a hailmary overhand right which he followed with a flowing left hook that was too much for his opponent to take. Povetkin’s contorted body crashed to the canvas, while he almost stumbled headfirst through the ropes upon too hastily raising himself onto his knees.

The quick-thinking of his cornerman — a grizzled old Russian called Ivan Kirpa with an eminently predictable nickname, who held him through the ropes and urged him to pause before standing — saw him narrowly survive the count. But in reality the pair succeeded only in delaying the inevitable. Povetkin immediately staggered into a second left hook, causing Steve Gray to dive in and end the contest. It was a good decision at precisely the correct moment from one of the best referees in the business.

Joshua celebrates after stopping Povetkin

Joshua and Povetkin had touched gloves at the end of every bruising round, with the show of respect extending into the post-fight interviews. “Povetkin is a very tough challenger and he proved it tonight,” Joshua said to cheers from the abruptly magnanimous crowd. “But I got my knockout streak back, I found my right hand again. There’s a lot of pressure, the country is rooting for us all and boxing. The energy in here spurs you on and I do feel that pressure.”

The knockout at least sent the punters home happy after a relatively underwhelming night of boxing. Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell’s rematch Yvan Mendy was much anticipated after a dramatic split decision in the Frenchman’s favour three years ago, but failed to truly ignite with the Yorkshireman winning a one-sided contest after a near flawless exhibition of boxing on the back foot. His win secures him another shot at the WBC lightweight title.

Joshua celebrates with the IBF, WBA Super, WBO & IBO belts

Earlier, Lawrence Okolie had rather sheepishly lifted the British cruiserweight title after one of the most dour domestic fights in memory. The 25-year-old received no fewer than three points deductions from an increasingly exasperated Victor Loughlin, but was still able to secure a unanimous decision win over Matty Askin, who did not take his defeat well.

“I came to box and win. I didn’t come to wrestle and get head butted,” he tweeted almost immediately upon returning to his dressing room. “I’m sorry for those who came to support me but he just wouldn’t fight. He had points deducted and was lucky not to be disqualified. I just feel I have been robbed of my title.”

Meanwhile the immensely popular David Price faces an uphill battle to salvage his career after appearing to rupture his bicep against the undefeated Sergey Kuzmin. Price retired on his stool at the end of the fourth round, later explaining: “I’ve had a slight tear there in me right bicep the last few weeks but we had to take the fight and take a chance to be honest. I ruptured it in the second round I think. By the end of the 4th round it’s barely movable.”

Joshua vs Povetkin

Full main event and undercard results

Anthony Joshua beats Alexander Povetkin by seventh-round stoppage (WBA Super, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles)

Luke Campbell beats Yvan Mendy by unanimous decision (WBC lightweight world title final eliminator)

Lawrence Okolie beats Matty Askin by unanimous decision (British cruiserweight title)

Sergey Kuzmin beats David Price after Price withdraws after four rounds with a bicep injury (10x3 mins heavyweight fight)

Shakhram Giyasov beats Julio Laguna by fourth-round stoppage (8x3 mins welterweight)

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