'AJ' Anthony Joshua defended his IBF World Heavyweight Championship with a dominating KO victory over USA's Dominic Breazeale last night at the O2 arena, London. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist now moves to 17 straight knockout victories since his pro debut and continues on his path towards some super fights, both domestic and abroad in the Heavyweight division in the near future. David Haye, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder to name but a few names potentially on the horizon.

American hopeful Breazeale did achieve something that only 1 other of Joshua's opponents in the past has managed, and that was to make it to the 7th round. 15 of AJ's previous 16 fights have been done and dusted inside 3 rounds. The exception being Dillian Whyte, who even after last night remains the toughest test the champ has faced so far. This was a different type of test though, as Breazeale was the first fighter we've seen that has taken AJ's best shots, and remained upright for a period of time. Joshua had to show patience and skill, and he duly proved that he has both in abundance.

The fight started as it meant to go on, with AJ looking confident moving forward, landing shots in combinations that pushed Breazeale backwards, despite being able to block a lot of what was coming with his gloves and forearms. AJ did have his man rocked in the second round, a left hand shook the American down to his boots as he stumbled backwards, but he showed good powers of recovery to get through the spell and the remainder of the round intact. Breazeale's main enemy was himself, as he just wasn't throwing enough punches to worry Joshua, meaning that the Champ was free to move forward and look to pick holes in Breazeale's defence, and anything he did throw looked slow and ponderous, giving AJ enough time to slip and move. In the heavyweight game everyone has a puncher's chance, but it was evident early on that Breazeale would need something a lot different than he was offering to trouble AJ.

As the rounds ticked by it looked like AJ could well be in for his longest fight yet, as no matter how often he caught his man clean, 'Big Trouble' Breazeale seemed unhurt, and was taking punches that have seen off men we thought tougher than himself. There's only so long however, that you can take bombs from the hands of AJ, roared on in what he calls the lions den by a 20,000 strong crowd, he stepped his game up in round 7 and found the breakthrough that secured him his first successful defence of the IBF crown. He backed Breazeale up into the corner, and rained punches on the American, who hit the canvas after 2 big ones landed. It was all over bar the shouting at that point, as 16 knockouts in 16 fights leading up to this prove that Joshua knows how to finish his man off once he smells blood. Breazeale got up and took the mandatory 8 count, but Joshua was all over him as soon as the ref called it on. He picked his punches on a waning Breazeale, before catching him with a big left hand that sent him sprawling and ended the contest. The ref waved his hands, and Joshua raised his own, still the IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Across the Atlantic there was an absolute slug-fest and fight of the year contender as Keith Thurman defended his WBA Welterweight World Title against Shawn Porter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. It was a styles-clash as the rough, ready and sometimes wild Porter looked to win his second World title against the classy and accurate Thurman. The action was non-stop from the first bell to the last, with a unanimous points decision having to decide the outcome. Porter walked his man down in bullish fashion, but Thurman often picked him off on his way in or out with crisp, clean punches. Both were hurt but never down at points during the fight, and a lot of rounds swung both ways, but it was Thurman who had his hand raised at the end. It was the right decision but there's no doubt we will see Porter around at this level again. IBF World Welterweight Champion Kell Brook was an interested spectator back in the Sky Sports studio and a potential unification fight is on the cards next between him and Thurman.

Back in the U.K the earlier fights on the under-card at the O2 had all gone as expected. George Groves had out-pointed Martin Murray in an eliminator for the WBA Super-Middlewight title. Chris Eubank Jr was in tremendous form as he showed his class with a 4th round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Tom Duran, with Eubank proving he is ready for the step up to World level. He proceeded to call out 'GGG' Gennady Golovkin after the bout which is a brave move, when everyone else in the division seems to be avoiding the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC Middleweight Champion. There were also expected wins for Dillian Whyte and Conor Benn in their respective fights, but they will be judged on performances against better opponents.

It was a night that had everything for boxing fans, and the sport continues to shine with big fights on the radar in all the major divisions. It was also the first time the Heavyweight title had been on the line since the passing of the late, great Muhammad Ali, a man who many including myself would consider the greatest of all time for not only his undoubted skill inside the ring, but also for his actions outside of it. He has influenced and inspired many a fighter over the years, and if Anthony Joshua can fulfill his dream of following in the great man's footsteps then Britain could have a very very special boxer on their hands. "Rumble young man Rumble"

Published by Kevin Howley