London, September 23: Anthony Joshua retained his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles with a brutal seventh-round knockout of Alexander Povetkin at Wembley.
Back at the stadium where he beat the great Wladimir Klitschko in an 11-round thriller last year, Joshua again went to the trenches against a high-class opponent.
Povetkin, 39, wobbled Joshua at the end of round one and the champion's nose was oozing blood in the second as he struggled with the Russian veteran's rumbling and relentless attacks.
Some nasty damage above the left eye did not dissuade the challenger and the fight was up for grabs at halfway before Joshua – now with a perfect record of 22 victories from as many professional contests - sensationally took the scorecards out of the equation.
A booming right hand saw Povetkin (34-2) sag and a clean left hook followed by a straight right sent him groggily to the canvas, with no chance of avoiding a first stoppage loss of his career amid the follow-up barrage that followed.
The clamour will now increase for Joshua to face the winner of the December 1 bout between WBC king Deontay Wilder and undefeated former champion Tyson Fury when he returns to this venue on April 13.