Anthony Joshua knocks down stubborn Dominic Breazeale to retain world title

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LONDON, England - Anthony Joshua is pretty predictable, but exciting at the same time. For the 17th successive time as a professional, Joshua stopped his opponent after Dominic Breazeale was overwhelmed in the seventh round on Saturday.

In a first defence of the IBF world heavyweight title, which Joshua won just over two months ago, the Briton finished Breazeale with two knockdowns from vicious combinations that the American could not resist. After Breazeale was floored for the second time, the fight was stopped.

It is a routine the sell-out crowd at the O2 Arena in London are growing accustomed to, but not tired of. Only one opponent, fellow Briton Dillian Whyte, had gone beyond three rounds with Joshua until Breazeale managed it as well.

Joshua, 26, has proved an irresistible force to those who have faced him since he won Olympic gold in the super-heavyweight weight class at London 2012. But harder examinations of his quality and his potential to be undisputed world heavyweight champion are looming fast.

A mandatory defence against New Zealand's Joseph Parker, who has stopped 16 out of 19 opponents, will have to be dealt with -- possibly by the end of the year -- before fights against the two other world heavyweight champions can be considered.

Joshua's fellow Briton Tyson Fury defends his WBA and WBO belts against former world No. 1 Wladimir Klitschko possibly on October 29 now after the fight was postponed from July 9 due to Fury spraining an ankle. WBC champion Deontay Wilder faces fellow American Chris Arreola on July 16 and Joshua has expressed an interest in fighting the winner.

Any world title unification fight would happen next year at the earliest for Joshua, who could also come up against British rival David Haye -- the former WBA champion -- before facing another world champion.

All will offer more of a threat than former NFL quarterback Breazeale, who once again endured a miserable trip to London.

Breazeale lost his opening bout at the 2012 Olympics in London in the same weight category that Joshua would eventually win gold in.

But Breazeale proved more durable than others Joshua has faced.

Watford-born Joshua, 26, began positively and landed a decent three-punch combination late in the first, but Breazeale also slipped away from some of his jabs.

Breazeale, 30 was under more pressure at the start of the second when Joshua landed a flurry of power punches.

Joshua got back behind his jab and was working patiently until a combination left Breazeale staggering back on spaghetti legs.

Breazeale survived that crisis but in the third round his right eye was almost swollen shut but he bravely battled on to become just the second professional opponent to take Joshua past three rounds.

Joshua was content to take his time by boxing at a steady pace, wobbling Breazeale with a right in the sixth when the American gamely returned fire and bloodied the Briton's nose.

It was all over the seventh when Breazeale was floored twice by combinations. He bravely got up after being decked by a left and a right but after a blizzard of blows was returned to the canvas and the fight waved off.