Britain’s Anthony Joshua successfully defended his IBF heavyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Eric Molina in Manchester.
Joshua, who was making the second defence of his belt, knocked the American down with a short right before the referee waved the fight off.
The 27-year-old now has 18 knockouts from as many fights and will face former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium on 29 April.
In a stirring WBC heavyweight title eliminator, Dillian Whyte beat Dereck Chisora via a split decision.
The Manchester Arena was a 21,000 sell-out and those in attendance included Klitschko, former heavyweight world champions Shannon Briggs and David Haye, and WBC cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew.
Haye and Bellew are set to meet on 4 March and engaged in some verbal sparring from their seats in the ringside media section.
The first round of the main event featured scarcely more action, although Joshua did land with a good left hook on the bell.
With Molina content to spoil, Joshua found it difficult to get off his shots in the second but he finally found his range in the third, with a devastating outcome.
With Molina pinned in the corner, Joshua chopped him down with a short overhand right and it was a minor miracle that he managed to regain his feet.
But the American only lasted a few more seconds, referee Steve Gray calling a halt to proceedings as Joshua was raining blows upon the challenger.
Before the fight, Molina said WBC champion Deontay Wilder, with whom he lasted nine rounds last year, was the hardest puncher in the division. Having felt the full force of Joshua’s fists, he might have changed his mind.
Joshua’s first reaction was to direct a smile and an outstretched glove towards Haye, a possible future opponent, although only one of many options.
The Briton won the title with a second-round knockout of American Charles Martin in April before knocking out Dominic Breazeale in his first defence in June.
Kitschko, who will be 41 in April, lost his WBA, IBF and WBO belts to Manchester’s Tyson Fury last year. Fury relinquished his belts last month, after announcing he was struggling with mental illness.
More to follow.
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