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.

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