Anthony Joshua knocks out Pulev to retain world heavyweight titles (photos/videos)

Anthony Joshua demolished Kubrat Pulev to retain his heavyweight world titles and set up a clash with Tyson Fury.

Joshua was fighting for the first time since he won back his three belts from Andy Ruiz Jr Saudi Arabia 12 months ago.

And after a slow start, Joshua rocked his challenger with a huge right hand in the third round.

He then dropped Pulev with an uppercut but the visitor recovered well to beat the count and hear the bell for the end of the session.

And the Bulgarian fought back well, landing right hands of his own to give Joshua moments of trouble.

But Joshua landed a stunning right hand in the ninth round to flatten his gutsy challenger for a final time with two seconds of the session remaining.

The champion will now set his sights on agreeing terms with Fury who holds the one world title Joshua is yet to win.

Joshua and Pulev were first scheduled to fight in 2017 but a shoulder injury forced the Bulgarian to pull out.

He was replaced by Carlos Takam and then had to work his way back into the mandatory position.

He did so with a points win over Hughie Fury but was made to wait again for his shot at Joshua when the coronavirus crisis struck.

Both men agreed to take a pay cut however with the fight finally held in front of 1,000 fans at the Wembley Arena.

The prize on offer – as well as three world titles – was a huge fight with Fury next year.

Joshua’s fellow Brit was waiting in the wings having walked away from his trilogy clash with Deontay Wilder after one delay too many.

And he will have watched a cagey opening round which Joshua edged courtesy of his jab.

It was a similar story in the second session but Joshua did let his hands go for the first time.

The fight sprung to life in the third round as Joshua caught Pulev with a right hand and then set to work, forcing the referee to count when the ropes held up the challenger.

Pulev was then dropped by an uppercut but managed to beat the count and hear the bell.

A quieter fourth saw Joshua revert to his jab as Pulev looked to have recovered well from the perilous previous stanza.

And it was the challenger who landed the best shot in the fifth, forcing Joshua to hold after a left-right combination.

Another right gave the champion trouble in the sixth as he struggled to regain his earlier rhythm.

Joshua was relying on his jab but caught Pulev with an uppercut in the seventh.

The Bulgarian was going nowhere though and fought back well in the next stanza but by the ninth was swinging wildly.

And Joshua caught and dropped him with an uppercut and although he beat another count, Pulev was flattened by a huge right hand in the dying seconds.

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