The Briton produced an explosive finish in front of crowd of around 68,000 at Wembley Stadium
Anthony Joshua extended his unbeaten professional record with a sensational stoppage of Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium.
The WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight champion overcame a difficult start before ending the contest in the seventh round with a brutal barrage of shots.
Povetkin had started the stronger of the two fighters, showing his power in the first round as he connected with a left hook which left Joshua with a bloody – and possibly broken – nose.
Joshua remained composed throughout the second round, though, despite bleeding heavily and by its conclusion, his success had led to significant swelling by Povetkin’s right eye.
The champion found his sense of distance during the third, and began to control the range and pace of the fight as his confidence grew.
Povetkin continued to swing and miss with wild left hooks and, in the fourth, began to struggle due to a large cut by his left eye.
A few cagey rounds followed, before Joshua ended the contest in emphatic fashion in the seventh.
After sending the Russian to the canvas with a left-right combination after hurting him with a big right hand, referee Steve Gray intervened to rescue Povetkin once he was back on his feet and unable to defend himself from another hurtful barrage of punches.
The 39-year-old Povetkin, like Joshua an Olympic gold medallist, had previously lost only to Klitschko and over the distance when the great Ukrainian was at his peak.
Joshua can therefore be delighted with yet another tough test passed, as he takes his professional record to 22 wins from 22 fights, 21 by knockout.
The 28-year-old admitted in the ring straight after the fight that he wants Deontay Wilder next.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has already booked Wembley for April 13 and Joshua is hopeful that an agreement can be found with the WBC champion’s camp.
“My number one would be Wilder, let’s not talk about a number two or three,” said AJ, when asked who he wants his next opponent to be.
Wilder is due to face Tyson Fury in December and Hearn says Dillian Whyte is Joshua’s back-up option if a deal to fight the American doesn’t come off.
“If they don’t want to fight (Wilder), they don’t want to fight,” he said.
“Anthony Joshua is not an Instagram world champion he is a world champion. Let’s see if Wilder v Fury actually happens. They haven’t got a venue.
“Tonight was about making the first step out of the way. If it is not Deontay, Dillian Whyte will be next. Our sole focus is on AJ being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
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On the undercard of Joshua vs Povetkin, Luke Campbell secured a shot at the WBC lightweight title after winning his rematch with Yvan Mendy, avenging the first of his two professional defeats.
In his first fight under new trainer Shane McGuigan he produced a significantly improved performance on that in December 2015, when he unexpectedly lost to the Frenchman, this time securing a unanimous decision.
The three ringside judges for the WBC title eliminator at Wembley Stadium scored him a winner via scores of 119-109, 118-111 and 116-112.
Liverpool heavyweight David Price had earlier suffered his third defeat from four, retiring on his stool after four rounds against Sergey Kuzmin with a right biceps injury.