Alexander Povetkin produced a spirited performance against Anthony Joshua at Wembley but was unable to register a shock victory over his younger opponent.
The 39-year-old Russian troubled Joshua earlier in the bout - inflicting a bloodied nose on the undefeated Brit - but he grew increasingly tired as the fight wore on and was eventually stopped in the seventh round.
Joshua, who retained his IBF, WBO and WBA titles in the process, recorded the 22nd victory of his professional career with a devastating knockout.
The 28-year-old followed up a jab with a vicious left hook and then a heavy straight right to send Povetkin to the canvas.
The fight was over at this point, despite Povetkin’s best efforts to get back on his feet. He was left helpless against the ropes, leaving the referee with no option but to end the bout.
"Povetkin is a very tough challenger, he proved that with good left hooks and counter punches," Joshua told reporters after the fight, per BBC Sport.
"I came in here to have fun, and give it my best. I knew he was strong to the head but weak to the body. I was just mixing it up.
"It could have been seven, maybe nine, maybe 12 rounds to get him out of there, but the ultimate aim was to be victorious.”
Joshua went inside Povetkin’s dressing room after the fight to congratulate his opponent and wish him all the best for the future - a lovely touch from the Watford-born superstar.
It showed some of the damage Povetkin had suffered after going seven rounds with AJ - but the Russian’s own video, which he uploaded to Instagram, showed the extent of his injuries more clearly.
Povetkin was left sporting two black eyes, with nasty bruising on either side of his head.
He also required stitches for a cut above his right eye.
AJ certainly packs some serious power into those punches, judging by Povetkin’s wounds.
It’s currently unclear whether Povetkin will continue his career. Having just turned 39, retirement will be a serious option for the 2004 Olympic gold medalist.
As for Joshua, he wants to fight Deontay Wilder next - although The Times understand that Dillian Whyte is set to be his next opponent.
Tyson Fury, who takes on Wilder in December, also wants a crack at Joshua next April.
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