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.”

Tyson, 54, to return for exhibition match against Jones Jr.

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CARSON, Calif. — Mike Tyson is coming back to boxing at age 54.

The former heavyweight champion will meet four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition match on Sept. 12 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he won the title in 1986 at age 20 and for a time was the most feared fighter in boxing. But his career became littered with distractions and he hasn’t boxed since 2005 after losing his second straight fight.

He has occasionally teased a return with workout videos and it’s finally scheduled to happen.

Jones, 51, won titles in the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight before moving up to win the heavyweight title in 2003, becoming the first former middleweight champion to do so in 106 years.

The event will air on pay-per-view and the social media music platform Triller. Further matches on the card and musical entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.

Boxer Errol Spence in ICU after Ferrari crash in Dallas

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DALLAS — Welterweight boxing champion Errol Spence crashed a speeding Ferrari in Dallas early Thursday and was badly injured but is expected to survive, police said.

The crash happened just before 3 a.m., when Spence’s Ferrari crossed a median into oncoming traffic and flipped over several times, police said.

Spence was taken to a hospital, where he was placed in the intensive care unit. Police said they’re still investigating the cause of the crash, but they noted that the Ferrari was speeding at the time.

Last month, the former U.S. Olympian added the WBC welterweight title to his IBF strap with a thrilling split-decision victory over Shawn Porter in Los Angeles.

With his rangy athleticism and virtuosic skill, Spence (26-0) has captured fans with a series of crisp victories in recent years. He won the IBF title in 2017 by stopping Kell Brook in England, and he defended it three times, culminating in a one-sided thrashing of undersized Mikey Garcia in March.

His bout with the veteran brawler Porter (30-3-1) was Spence’s biggest test yet, and he emerged victorious from a fight that featured several wild exchanges of punches and had the Staples Center crowd of 16,702 on its feet throughout the 12th round, roaring for both fighters when they embraced after the final bell.