Anthony Joshua returned to the ring in style after five months out in style as he stopped veteran Jason Gavern in the third round of the fight in Newcastle to continue his unbeaten streak.
Joshua, who has been out injured with a stress fracture in his back, made it 11 fights undefeated as he saw off his opponent just 81 seconds into the third in what was a scrappy bout.
The experienced Gavern was put on the canvas twice inside the opening two rounds before another assault from Joshua ended the fight in just his 20th professional boxing round.
It was only the second time Joshua had gone to a third round, but it was only a matter of time before he unleashed a combo on gutsy Gavern that would finish him.
The 37-year-old made himself difficult to connect with in the early proceedings, using all his experience to frustrate AJ. However the first blow to break through the defence of the American shook him, which was a sign of things to come.
The Watford-born fighter looked casual in the ring, but his shots maintained the explosiveness we’ve been used to seeing and it didn’t take him long to knock down his opponent with a big right-hand.
A second knockdown for Joshua was to follow at the start of the third, before a final attack on Gavern was enough to put him down a third time and result in the fight being stopped.
Speaking to Sky Sports afterwards, Joshua said: “Unfortunately a bit or ring-rust was there but once we get that momentum going again we will able to do some more sharp-shooting.
“There’s a lot of expectations and Jason Gavern is a very awkward opponent, he’s a slippery customer and he was there to make me look bad and I think he did a good job.”
It was a perfect fight for Joshua to return to the ring; setting him up superbly for May 30 at the O2 Arena in London when he takes on Kevin Johnson in what should be his toughest test to date.
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