Dominant Anthony Joshua successfully retained his IBF world championship for the first time with a commanding victory over American Dominic Breazeale on Saturday night (25 June). Fighting once again in front of a hugely supportive crowd at London's O2 Arena, the 26-year-old, who in April became the fifth-fastest man ever to win a heavyweight title with a ruthless defeat of the hapless Charles Martin, preserved his impressive knockout record but struggled to finish off a remarkably durable opponent in what was almost the longest fight of his career to date.
After a tribute and the tolling of 10 bells in memory of the late, great Muhammad Ali, Joshua soaked up the adoration with a lengthy ring walk before establishing his jab from the opening bell. He also landed a nice early left hook and uncorked a powerful right that Breazeale, to his credit, absorbed while at least looking like he might survive a little longer than his compatriot.
Joshua continued to tee off at will in round two, rocking his fellow 2012 Olympian with a decent flurry and a lovely right hand to force him against the ropes. Breazeale demonstrated admirable resilience by not wilting in the face of several more big punches, but he was seriously struggling to land anything of note - aside from one dig that invited an impressive counter - and a closing, swollen right eye was testament to the regular punishment being sent in his direction.
He soldiered on regardless, however, dealing with the sort of heavy blows that have done for all of Joshua's previous opponents. The contest continued in a similar vein throughout, with the defending champion picking his shots but still not managing to break that steely resolve.
The appearance of blood around the nose of Joshua was something we simply have not seen before, but if anything it just seemed to motivate him further and Breazeale's resistance was finally broken with an emphatic flurry in round seven. He still managed to get back up, yet by that stage it was lights out and he was soon sent back to the canvas for the second and final time.
On the undercard, George Groves took a big step towards his fourth world title challenge by securing a unanimous decision victory over fellow Briton Martin Murray in an eliminator for the WBA belt. Chris Eubank Jr also warmed up for a potential clash with big-punching middleweight title-holder Gennady Golovkin by easily dispatching unbeaten former Prizefighter winner Tom Doran.
Defending the British belt he won with a controversial victory over Nick Blackwell in March, the 26-year-old toyed with his vastly inferior domestic opponent and put him down three times before the fight was waved off in round four. Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn said in his post-fight interview that a deal with formidable pound-for-pound phenom Golovkin could be signed off as early as next week. Triple G's promoter, Tom Loeffler, also took to social media to confirm that his client was willing to defend his belts in the United Kingdom.
Dillian Whyte also returned to action for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in the aftermath of his defeat to bitter rival Joshua in December 2015 and got six useful rounds under his belt before stopping Ivica Bacurin. Super-lightweight prospect Conor Benn, son of legendary British boxer Nigel who clashed with his father's old rival Chris Eubank Sr in a press conference on Wednesday, chalked up his third consecutive professional triumph with a brutal first-round knockout of Lukas Radic.
John Wayne Hibbert's brave attempts to claim the WBC silver super-lightweight title were ruined when his bloody bout with Italian Andrea Scarpa was halted in round six due to a nasty cut sustained early on. Anthony Ogogo continued his return from achilles and shoulder injuries with a routine KO of Frane Radnic and there were also wins for Ted Cheeseman, Kal Yafai and Felix Cash.