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The Real “Fight of the Century” Remains Corrales-Castillo I

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Forget the hype. Forget what you were told. Forget even what you know, or think you know. Not to disparage Mayweather-Pacquiao, which is the undisputed revenue-producing champion of all time, but the real “Fight of the Century” remains the classic first pairing of lightweight champions Diego “Chico” Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. Their epic unification clash on May 7, 2005, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas was so riveting that many consider it to be the greatest boxing match of all time.

Such an assertion might or might not be considered true, as there are always disparities in individual perception. There is no algorithm to pinpoint which treasured fight in ring history indisputably deserves to be at the very top of that figurative mountain. But while the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was relayed to the International Space Station to be viewed by U.S. astronauts at their leisure, Corrales-Castillo I, won by Corrales on a 10th-round stoppage only moments after it appeared he was on the verge of being taken out himself, is what we would want communicated throughout the galaxy to show other intelligent life forms, if indeed there are any, that inhabitants of Earth are incredibly tough, courageous and not to be messed with.

“You can vote now,” Gary Shaw, Corrales’ promoter, said at the postfight press conference a decade ago. “This is Fight of the Year, Fight of Next Year, Fight of the Decade. I don’t believe you’ll ever see anything like this again.”

There have, of course, been some excellent bouts since Corrales and Castillo took each other to hell and back. But in the 10 years that have passed, Shaw and others who were fortunate enough to have been eyewitnesses that amazing night haven’t had cause to rate any fight higher for drama and gut-wrenching excitement.

“Oh, it was a great fight. A spectacular fight,” Shaw told me a few days ago. “But that was Corrales. He always said that they would have to carry him out of the ring before he’d ever stop fighting. He was the ultimate never-give-up guy.

“I actually thought the fight was going to be over in that 10th round. Diego had gone down a second time and was on his hands and knees. I was thinking as a promoter would, `What am I going to say at the press conference? How am I going to bring Diego back?’ The next thing I knew, I had almost an out-of-body experience. When I looked up, Castillo was sagging against the ropes and the referee (Tony Weeks) was waving the fight off. Incredible.”

Said referee Tony Weeks, who drew the assignment as third man in the ring: “That fight definitely is the highlight of my career. It will go down in history. It is history. And those guy guys, Corrales and Castillo, made me a part of that history. I’m forever indebted to them. They epitomized what true champions are.”

As amazing rallies go, Corrales’ comeback from the brink was like a baseball team that was six runs down with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the World Series somehow pulling out the victory. If such a stark momentum shift in a boxing match can be equated to a miracle, well, this was it.

“In the 10th round, Castillo nailed Corrales with a left hook and he went down,” Weeks recalled. “There was the mouthpiece issue, of course. (More on that a bit later.) Corrales got up and he seemed to be OK, so I let things go on and, boom, he goes down again. At this point I’m thinking it’s a brutal fight, I might have to stop it if he goes down another time. But, somehow, Corrales was able to turn the tables. If you look at the film, you can see my focus shift from Corrales to Castillo.

“It was unbelievable, and it all happened so fast. One minute I’m counting over Corrales and the next minute I’m stopping the fight with Castillo out on his feet.”

As is often the case with any story that has a rich vein of silver linings, there are dark clouds of controversy and even tragedy that stick to Corrales-Castillo I like lint on a Velcro brush. Jay Larkin, the Showtime boxing boss who was instrumental I making the fight, was ousted from the position he had held for 21 years later in 2005. He was 59 when he died, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer, on Aug. 9, 2010. Corrales was never the same after that first go-round with Castillo; he lost his final three bouts, including the rematch, retired and, inebriated and reportedly despondent , he died in a motorcycle crash in Las Vegas on May 7,2007 – two years to the day after the signature victory of a praiseworthy career in which he went 40-5, with 33 wins inside the distance.

“When I received the news (of Corrales’ death), I was devastated,” Weeks said. “I couldn’t believe it. For it to happen on that particular date … that was devastating. I got to know Corrales through boxing, in the ring and out of the ring. He was a real nice guy, a real likable guy. He would always cater to the public as far as giving autographs and taking pictures with fans. You would never think he was such a fierce warrior if you met him outside of the ring.”

More so than most, I have a deep connection to Corrales-Castillo I because, in some small way, I feel like I helped make it happen. I was the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2005, and it was my decision, at the suggestion of Las Vegas-based writer Kevin Iole, to bring the 80th annual BWAA Awards Dinner to the Strip for the first time after many years of it being staged exclusively on the East Coast, most often in New York.

As part of the process of transforming that plan into a reality, I contacted officials at both Showtime and HBO and said the event could only be staged in Las Vegas if it was in conjunction with a major fight the following night. I gave a list of preferred dates to both premium cable networks and told them, basically, that we’d partner up with whichever stepped up first.

Larkin clearly was on board. “We very much want to be involved,” he told me, “and I’m prepared to go a half-million dollars over our normal budget for a Showtime Championship Boxing telecast to make it happen.”

What he delivered was a showdown between Corrales, the WBO lightweight champion, and Castillo, who held the WBC title. It was an attractive fight, given the reputations of both fighters, but it wasn’t a megafight. In fact, the announced attendance that night in the Mandalay Bay Events Center was 5,100, well short of capacity, although the correct figure is probably somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000.

To my way of thinking, anything good that took place on May 7 was gravy. The BWAA Awards Dinner, thanks in large part to Mandalay Bay public relations director Gordon Absher, who was instrumental in the event selling out with a celebrity guest list that included, among others, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Vitali Klitschko, Winky Wright, James Toney, Shane Mosley, Chris Byrd, Hasim Rahman, Lamon Brewster, Erik Morales, Glen Johnson, Wayne McCullough, Jeff Lacy, Zab Judah, Kevin Kelly and Richie Sandoval.

But the BWAA Awards Dinner, star-studded as it was, merely served as an appetizer to the real main event the following night. Corrales and Castillo hurled themselves at one another with uncommon fury from the opening bell. The exchanges were frequent and torrid, clinches rare, and the ebb and flow suggested something lifted from a WWE script. It was obvious seconds into Round 1 that those spectators who were fortunate enough to be in the arena, and the Showtime viewing audience, were witnessing an instant classic.

The toll of the punishment being dished out both ways soon became apparent, most noticeably on Corrales’ face, which was a gargoyle mask with angry, purplish lumps under each eye. He later described them as “marbles, big, hard marbles.” And as those marbles enlarged, a curtain was slowly being drawn across the slits his battered eyes had become.

Asked afterward if he was concerned about his diminishing field of vision, Corrales, well, lied. Distorting reality is something desperate fighters do to buy extra time from a referee or a ring physician upon whose judgment their further participation in a bout hinges.

“It’s not my job to worry about swelling,” he said of the mouses that had become rat-sized, offering still another magnificent prevarication. “It’s not my job to worry about knockdowns. It’s not my job to worry about anything that might hinder me. It’s the corner’s job to worry about those things. It’s my job to fight.”

Make no mistake, Corrales’ trainer, Joe Goossen, was fretting enough for the entire corner team. And what he told his fighter, or what Corrales decided on his own, might have proved the difference between a spectacular, back-from-the-brink victory and near-certain defeat.

In his most notable fight prior to his trench war with Castillo, Corrales had wrested the WBO 135-pound title from Brazil’s Acelino Freitas on a 10th-round TKO on Aug. 7, 2004, in Mashantucket, Conn. It did not escape Corrales’ attention that, whenever Freitas appeared to be in real trouble, he would “accidentally” lose his mouthpiece, obliging referee Mike Ortega to call time to have it rinsed off. A slick ploy, but one that ultimately did not prevent Freitas’ championship from changing hands.

Twenty-five seconds into Round 10, Castillo landed flush with a left hook that sent Corrales crashing to the canvas. His mouthpiece was dislodged by the shot, which probably was done legitimately, but Corrales – who had demonstrated remarkable recuperative powers throughout his career, in which he previously had been decked eight times – got precious additional seconds of recovery time.

The second knockdown, also from a left hook, had “Chico’s” chances of winning hanging by a slender thread. Even before Weeks reached a count of nine, a clearly buzzed Corrales removed his mouthpiece, apparently intentionally.

“The first time it came out, it came out by itself,” Corrales said. “The second time, I took it out to breathe. But I didn’t drop it on purpose.”

Weeks deducted a point from Corrales for intentionally spitting out the mouthpiece and directed him to his corner, where Goossen took his sweet time in rinsing it off and re-inserting it. When Corrales turned to face Castillo again, 28 seconds had elapsed.

Would Corrales have been stopped without the break in the action? Possibly. But Corrales, still in desperate straits, got there first with an overhand right, which he followed up with a barrage of blows, driving the Mexican back against the ropes, his head vibrating like it was on a swivel. Weeks believed he had no choice but to step in and wave things off at the 2:06 mark.

At the time of the stoppage, Corrales led, 87-84 and 86-85, on the scorecards of judge Lou Moret and Daniel Van de Wiele, with Castilo up, 87-84, on Paul Smith’s card.

“Castillo was naked,” Weeks said of the stoppage. “He was being hit with bombs. He went limp. He was unable to defend himself. He was out on his feet. His eyes rolled back, his arms were at his sides. I had to stop it.”

Not surprisingly, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promoted Castillo, went ballistic.

“Forget the Long Count (in Dempsey-Tunney II),” Arum fumed. “Twenty-eight seconds. Nearly half a minute. If Jose Luis had spit out his mouthpiece, maybe he would have gotten 28 seconds (to recuperate).”

Shaw, of course, saw things differently.

“There’s nothing worse than taking away from a night like this,” he said. “This fight cannot be sullied by controversy.”

For his part, Weeks stands by his decision to allow Corrales enough time to have his mouthpiece rinsed and re-inserted, a ruling which was in accordance with Nevada State Athletic Commission rules, according to Marc Ratner, then the NSAC executive director.

“I would not do anything differently,” insisted Weeks, one of boxing’s best referees. “The first time (the mouthpiece came out), I didn’t see Corrales spit it out. Even the second time, I didn’t see it. But it was out, so the second time I thought, `We got a situation here.’ The appropriate thing was to deduct a point, which I did.”

Maybe Shaw is correct; the mouthpiece controversy doesn’t seem quite as big a deal now, maybe because the action was so indelibly printed on the minds of all that were privileged to have seen one of the great prizefights of all time. Fifteen years into the 21st century, there still hasn’t been anything to quite match it, not even the Gatti-Ward troika and, money considerations aside, not Mayweather-Pacquiao.

“The thing that bothers me the most (about the May-Pac fight) is they made it about money, instead of what a great fight really should be about,” he said. “I have a lot of mixed emotions about Saturday night in relation to Corrales-Castillo because those guys didn’t get anywhere near the money that Mayweather and Pacquiao got. But they were the ones who fought their hearts out and put everything on the line. Mayweather and Pacquiao didn’t, in my estimation.”

The measure of what Corrales-Castillo I was is the fact that it remains a measuring stick against which other fights are judged. Prior to junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse’s 12-round, majority decision over Ruslan Provodnikov on April 18 in Verona, N.Y., Provodnikov’s promoter, Art Pelullo, raised the possibility of a reasonable facsimile of May7, 2005, again taking place.

“I believe it’s going to be Corrales-Castillo I,” Pelullo opined. It wasn’t, but it is indicative of just how special a fight that was that boxing people still bring it up with a reverence that Mayweather-Pacquiao dwarfed in revenues generated but not where it counts, inside the ropes.

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights

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experienced opponent

He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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