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Joshua knocks out Breazeale to defend IBF heavyweight title

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LONDON — Anthony Joshua defended his IBF heavyweight title by knocking out Dominic Breazeale in the seventh round Saturday, ending his American challenger’s unbeaten record.

It was only the second time in the 26-year-old Joshua’s career than he has required more than three rounds to see off an opponent.

“I’m tired and I’m working hard,” said Joshua, who improved his professional record to 17-0 since winning the Olympic title in 2012 in London. “Now I can recharge my batteries and start afresh again.”

A devastating left-right combination early in the seventh round — similar to those that stopped many of the Briton’s 16 previous opponents — sent Breazeale to the canvas so heavily it appeared the fight was over.

Somehow Breazeale (17-1) got back to his feet, clinging to the last seconds of his undefeated professional record, before a further barrage dropped him again.

It left the referee with little choice but to wave the action over, one minute and one second into the seventh round at London’s O2 Arena.

Joshua was patient throughout the opening round, frequently landing left jabs and the occasional hurtful right, even showing a previously-unseen head movement to evade a Breazeale counter.

In the second Joshua displayed greater aggression. He punched through Breazeale’s high guard, and repeatedly sought — and often successfully found — his opponent’s resistant head with uppercuts, left hooks and straight rights. Significant swelling was already appearing around Breazeale’s right eye.

What followed was a demonstration of Joshua’s relish of combat. Breazeale’s impressive punch resistance ensured he remained on his feet, and when he fought back and landed, Joshua responded with greater malice.

His inexperience showed at one point with punches that missed wildly, while Breazeale continued to absorb heavy punishment in the rounds that followed, particularly a perfectly-timed left hook midway through the fifth.

The most impressive performance of Joshua’s career culminated with that combination in the seventh, and he clinically finished.

“It was a matter of timing and a process,” Joshua told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “I only had two weeks off after my last fight (against Charles Martin in April) and now I want to have a nice bit of time off.”

It is expected he will next face mandatory challenger Joseph Parker of New Zealand

Joshua is adjusting his plans after Tyson Fury was forced to postpone his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko after hurting his left ankle in training. Fury, who is also British, was stripped of the IBF heavyweight title last year but still holds the WBA and WBO belts.

“I was looking at Tyson Fury and I hope he gets better soon because I was hoping to get that in the winter,” Joshua said. “In the meantime, we’ll look at other opponents like Joseph Parker.”

Boxer LaMotta, immortalized in ‘Raging Bull,’ dies at 95

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MIAMI (AP) Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life was depicted in the film “Raging Bull,” has died at the age of 95.

His fiancee, Denise Baker, says LaMotta died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia.

The Bronx Bull, as he was known in his fighting days, compiled an 83-19-4 record with 30 knockouts.

LaMotta fought Sugar Ray Robinson six times, handing Robinson his first defeat. He lost the middleweight title to him in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

In his previous fight, LaMotta saved the championship in movie-script fashion against Laurent Dauthuille. Trailing badly, LaMotta knocked out the challenger with 13 seconds left.

LaMotta threw a fight against Billy Fox, which he admitted in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee. He said he was promised a shot at a title.

On June 16, 1949, he became middleweight champion when Marcel Cerdan couldn’t continue after the 10th round.

The 1980 film “Raging Bull” was based on LaMotta’s memoir. Actor Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award for it.

Canelo and Golovkin fight to controversial draw

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gennady Golovkin retained his middleweight titles Saturday night, fighting to a draw with Canelo Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters with their hands aloft in victory.

The middleweight showdown lived up to its hype as the two fighters traded huge punches and went after each other for 12 rounds. Neither fighter was down and neither appeared seriously hurt but both landed some huge punches to the head that had the crowd screaming in excitement.

Golovkin was the aggressor throughout and landed punches that had put other fighters to the canvas. But he couldn’t put Alvarez down, and the Mexican star more than stood his own in exchanges with Triple G, from Kazakhstan. The two were still brawling as the final seconds ticked down and the fight went to the scorecards.

One judge had Alvarez winning 118-110, a second had it 115-113 in Golovkin’s favor while the third had it 114-114. The Associated Press scored it 114-114.

Golovkin, who has never lost in 38 fights, retained his middleweight titles with the draw. But Alvarez showed that he could not only take Golovkin’s punches but land telling punches of his own.

A frenzied crowd of 22,358 at the T-Mobile Arena roared throughout the fight as the two middleweights put on the kind of show that boxing purists had anticipated. They brawled, used sharp jabs and counter-punched at times, with neither one willing to give the other much ground.

“Congratulations all my friends from Mexico,” Golovkin said. “I want a true fight. I want a big drama show.”

There was plenty of drama late in the fight as Alvarez seemed to rally and rocked Golovkin with uppercuts and big right hands. But just as soon as he landed he often took one back from the slugger so feared that most other fighter avoided him.

“I won seven-eight rounds easily,” Alvarez said.

It was a battle from the opening bell as Golovkin tried to walk Alvarez down but often found himself getting hit from sharp counter punches.

“Today, people give me draw. I focus on boxing,” Golovkin said. “Look my belts, I’m still champion. I’ve not lost.”

Golovkin predicted before the fight that the late rounds would resemble a street fight, and in a way they did. Both fighters were willing to trade, and both had no problems landing hard shots to the head.

Golovkin had chased Alvarez for nearly two years, trying to get the signature fight that would pay him millions and make him a pay-per-view draw on his own. Alvarez finally agreed after Golovkin looked vulnerable earlier this year against Daniel Jacobs in a decision win that stopped his knockout streak at 23 fights.