Anthony Joshua produced a devastating ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev to start the second defence of his reign as world heavyweight champion in style.
The Briton dominated throughout at Wembley’s SSE Arena and a stunning combination finally saw off the valiant efforts of the challenger, who had been down three times before at the fourth time of asking could not make the count.
It meant Joshua retained his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts and more importantly stays on track for a twin-fight with Tyson Fury in 2021.
A ‘Battle of Britain’ could sell out across the continent and plans for it to be hosted at Wembley will depend on how many fans are able to attend, with only 1,000 spectators inside the SSE Arena due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pulev had talked the talk in the build-up to this fight and insisted he had been waiting for a second chance at Joshua after he was forced to pull out of a 2017 meeting due to a shoulder injury.
But after putting the challenger down twice in the third, Joshua did the same again in the ninth and the final knockout blow proved too much for the 39-year-old Bulgarian to come back from.
“We did our press conference on Thursday, we had the weigh-in on Friday and it is less talk, more action. I hope everyone went home happy,” Joshua told the fans after.
“Of course I want a challenge. It is not about the opponents, it is about the legacy of the belt. Whoever has got the belt, I want the challenge. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury.”
With an agreement already in principle for two meetings in 2021, only the finer details need to be resolved for a mouth-watering unification bout.
“We will be friendly, we will be nice and we know what we have to do. Starting from tomorrow let’s make this Tyson Fury fight happen,” promoter Eddie Hearn added.
“It is the only fight to make in boxing, it is the biggest fight in boxing and the biggest fight in British boxing. I know he wants it.”
Tyson Fury, who declined an offer to attend, immediately took to Twitter after Joshua’s victory and said: “I want the fight, I want the fight next and I will knock him out inside three rounds.”