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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.”

Pacquiao wins 60th career fight with seventh-round knockout

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Manny Pacquiao clinched his 60th victory with a seventh-round knockout Sunday of Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, his first stoppage in nine years.

Pacquiao said he worked hard but was surprised by the swift win in the World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao rebounded from his disappointing loss last year to Australian Jeff Horn and his victory could extend his boxing career that had taken a backseat to his political life as a Filipino senator.

“This is part of boxing. You win some, you lose some,” Matthysse said. He hailed Pacquiao as a “great legend” and said he will take a break after his loss.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also attended the fight, the biggest boxing match in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

Duterte said: “I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more.”

‘It’s about time’: Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.

“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history.”

“He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time,” Trump said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend.

Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.

He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then mowed down a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson “was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”

“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor,” McCain has said.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949.

Linda E. Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says “processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.