Anthony Joshua
Joshua was untroubled by Gavern, but did not quite finish the contest as quickly as he might have liked.Getty Images

Anthony Joshua made a triumphant return to the ring on 4 April, maintaining his 100% career record with a dominant win over journeyman Jason Gavern.

British heavyweight Joshua, who won gold at the 2012 London Olympics and has never been taken past the third round as a professional, had been forced to withdraw from a January bout against Kevin Johnson due to a stress fracture to the back that required urgent attention.

While the fight has since been rearranged for May, the 25-year-old was obviously in need of a tune-up bout, and his camp obliged with a hastily arranged eight-round contest against Gavern in Newcastle.

No-one expected the American to prove anything other than a minor irritant to his more powerful opponent, and so it came to pass with Joshua landing some big shots to provide a brief thrill to the assembled crowd inside Metro Radio Arena.

To his credit, Gavern, who has been in with the likes of Deontay Wilder in recent years, soaked up much of the punishment with commendable spirit and resilience.

Return to form

Three times he beat the referee's count to continue after being sent sprawling to the canvas, yet he was unable to do so again with a particularly brutal left hand from Joshua bringing a one-sided encounter to a close with time remaining in the third.

"I had a bit of ring rust so couldn't display everything I have been doing in the gym," Joshua told Sky Sports after his 11th consecutive victory since turning pro in 2013. "But once the momentum gets going I will be able to display some more shots, some more sharp shooting.

"There are a lot of expectations and Jason is a very awkward opponent. He's a slippery customer and he is there to make me look back and he did a good job of that. I have a job to do and that is get a win.

"If I can start pushing to British titles and European titles, step by step these fights won't really mean anything when I am experienced and a champion."

Johnson should provide a sterner test of Joshua's dominance at the O2 Arena, although it is worth noting that the former has lost to both Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora in the United Kingdom since 2012.