Antony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale: World champion retains IBF heavyweight title with brutal seventh-round knockout
Anthony Joshua delivered a composed and brutal performance to knock out resilient American Dominic Breazeale to retain the IBF heavyweight world title, maintaining his perfect record since winning Olympic gold at London 2012.
Joshua was taken to the seventh round for just the second time in his 17-fight career, but he undoubtedly won every round as the Watford boxer asserted his superior power and pace to dominate the heavier Breazeale.
Having knocked out Charles Martin inside two rounds to win the title, Joshua soon realised that he would have to work to see off Breazeale. The challenger wore plenty of big punches in the opening rounds, yet was still standing in front of Joshua and fought back when the opportunity presented itself.
However, the knock down felt inevitable, and when Breazeale started to grow in confidence, Joshua pounced.
The reigning champion pinned Breazeale on the ropes and delivered a thunderous left hood that sent Breazeale to the canvas. The fight resumed after an eight count, but Breazeale would not last much longer as a similar left hook exploded through Breazeale’s guard and ended the bout, with referee Howard Foster waving off the fight after seeing Breazeale motionless on the floor.
After coming through one of his toughest-yet-one-sided challenges so far, Joshua admitted that he always felt confident that a stoppage was coming.
“It’s hard because you can see they hurt when you start catching them flush with these 10 ounce gloves on, so I knew it was a matter of time, but I didn’t want to receive any haymakers in return,” Joshua told Sky Sports afterwards, before going on to admit his disappointment in seeing Tyson Fury suffer an injury that will prevent any domestic world title showdown between the pair take place before the end of the year as well as calling out Breazeale’s compatriot, Deontay Wilder.
“He [Wilder] can pick up whatever he wants to pick up from that, but it’s completely different when you’re in the ring,” Joshua added. “I was really looking at the Fury’s, either one of them [Tyson and Hughie]. I hope he [Tyson] gets well soon because he’s hurt his ankle and wanted that fight in winter time.
“I need to rest. I’m tired and working hard, now I can get some rest and recharge my batteries.
Joshua wobbled Breazeale in the second round (Getty)
Joshua also paid tribute to the late Muhammad Ali, who died on 3 June to send the boxing world into mourning. Joshua’s victory represented the first heavyweight title bout since Ali’s passing, and Joshua – kitted out in Ali-style white shorts – was quick to pay tribute after a 10-bell salute before the fight.
“[He’s an] Inspirational person. When I’m watching Ali on YouTube videos it looks so easy,” he said. “I come in here and try to do it and can’t move my feet!”
Earlier in the night, George Groves put himself in line for a fourth world title shot after winning a draining yet thrilling super middleweight bout with Martin Murray to retain his WBA intercontinental title. With the future of champion Felix Sturm in doubt after an alleged failed drug test, Groves threw himself back into contention, having lost twice to Carl Froch by stoppage and once on unanimous points to Badou Jack in his previous world title tilts.
George Groves defeated Martin Murray to set-up a shot at the WBA super middleweight title (Getty)
The Londoner came out of the traps quickly and had Murray on the back foot, but the St Helens man grew in confidence and began to take the fight to Groves. As the fight moved into the second half, both boxers began to throw caution to the wind, and at least twice it looked like Murray was on his way out of the match only to grit his teeth and reach the bell.
Chris Eubank continued to call out middleweight king Gennady Golovkin after he delivered a devastating performance to beat Welshman Tom Doran with a fourth round stoppage. Duran received a barrage of body shots from the confident Eubank Jr, and after beating the count in the third, he was knocked down three times in the fourth before the bout was called off.
Chris Eubank delivered a devastating performance to beat Tom Doran (Getty)
Dillian Whyte began his comeback from his 2015 loss to Joshua by defeating Croatian Ivica Bacurin, though it was not a polished performance from the heavyweight who underwent shoulder surgery following the Joshua bout. Whyte was able to dominate Bacurin, and when he took a knee in the sixth, he refused to get up knowing he was beat.
Dillian Whyte needed six rounds to see off Ivica Bacurin (Getty)
Conor Benn continued his rise with a knockout win over Lukas Radic (Getty)
Conor Benn continued his rise through the ranks after ending his fourth professional bout in the opening round against Lukas Radic. A combination of left, right and left hooks ended the fight with the Czech Republic boxer, who needed treatment immediately after before getting to his feet.