Anthony Joshua secures first-round win over Emanuele Leo
British heavyweight hope Anthony Joshua easily won his first fight as a professional, stopping Emanuele Leo in the first round at London's O2 Arena.
Joshua - super-heavyweight champion at the 2012 Olympics - had far too much power for his Italian opponent, who was previously unbeaten in eight fights.
Joshua floored Leo with a vicious flurry two minutes and 47 seconds into the bout and the fight was waved off.
The 23-year-old Londoner will next fight in Sheffield on 26 October.
"There were big expectations on me as people wanted to see what I've been up to in the 14 months I've been away (from the ring)," Joshua told BBC Radio 5 live.
"I had to stay relaxed. I've been doing a lot of work outside of the ring in the gym and I feel like I showed a bits and pieces of my skills tonight.
"Everyone is proud and hopefully everyone can understand what my dreams are.
"I just need to stay disciplined, focused and hopefully everyone will support me and let me crack on with it. Then you will see the best of me."
Results from London's O2
- Anthony Joshua bt Emanuele Leo by first-round stoppage
- Scott Quigg retained WBA super-bantamweight title with majority draw against Yoandris Salinas
- Lee Selby bt Ryan Walsh by unanimous decision (British and Commonwealth featherweight)
- Kevin Mitchell bt Marco Lopez by sixth-round stoppage
- Luke Campbell bt Neil Hepper by first-round stoppage
On the same bill, fellow Olympic champion Luke Campbell's second paid fight resulted in a first-round knockout of Darlington's Neil Hepper, while Scott Quigg retained his WBA super-bantamweight title with a majority draw against Cuba's Yoandris Salinas.
On the face of it, promoter Eddie Hearn's decision to match Joshua against an unbeaten fighter over six rounds on his professional debut was a bold one.
However, 32-year-old Leo had fought only eight times in a little over four years before Saturday and never outside of Italy.
In addition, the doughy Leo was giving away significant height and weight advantages to the 6ft 6in, 17 stone Joshua.
Working with trainer Tony Sims, Joshua has dropped a stone since his Olympic triumph and it is doubtful whether a finer physical specimen has been seen in a British ring.
Joshua, who turned pro on the advice of Britain's greatest heavyweight Lennox Lewis, used his jab to good effect from the opening bell, wobbling Leo on a number of occasions before the end came.
Hearn's task over the next 12 months will be a tricky one as he looks to protect his investment while expanding his skillset and profile with the British public.
Joshua's aim is to become a world champion within four years, which would see him emulate Lewis, Frank Bruno and David Haye as British heavyweight world champions in the modern era.
"There are things I need to work on," Joshua said.
"Sometimes you see your opponents hurt and you want to trade, but at heavyweight it only takes one punch, so I need to be a bit more disciplined: tuck up, trade, tuck up, trade."
Meanwhile, Hull's Campbell, fighting in the lightweight division, gave a fine demonstration of body punching to dispose of his opponent in one minute and 59 seconds.
It was his second successive first-round knockout after he beat Andy Harris in July.