Anthony Joshua MBE returned with a bang as he KO’d Jason Gavern in the third round in Newcastle to make it 11 KO’s from 11 pro fights.

Joshua was back in action after five months out of the ring with a stress fracture of the back, and opposing him was the ebullient Gavern, fighting for the 50th time in the paid ranks.

Gavern started well as Joshua eased his way back into the swing of things, but the American was floored twice in the second round as Joshua found his groove – but Gavern raised his hand in defiance as he heard the bell and headed back to his corner.

Joshua came roaring back out for the third and repeated the dose from the previous session, flooring Gavern twice – and the second time the brave visitor failed to beat the count.

Joshua now focusses on a meeting with former World title challenger Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson, and the 25 year old was glad to get back into action and shake off the cobwebs.

“I had a bit of ring rust so couldn’t display everything I have been doing in the gym,” said Joshua. “But once the momentum gets going I will be able to display some more shots, some more sharp shooting

“I have boxed in Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, London and I have to say Newcastle is right up there with the crowd, so a big thank you to the fans tonight.

“There are a lot of expectations and Jason is a very awkward opponent. He’s a slippery customer and he is there to make me look back and he did a good job of that. I have a job to do and that is get a win. If I can start pushing to British titles, European titles step by step these fights won’t really mean anything when I am experienced and a champion.

“Johnson has same type of style as Jason; he was a defensive puzzle to unfold but I slowly broke him down and same with Kevin Johnson.

“There are two sides to a fight, the first six and the second six. One way or another they will get broken down whether it is in the first half or second half.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn added: “He was coming off a stress fracture in the back. Kevin Johnson was down to be the next opponent but Anthony has been out for months. He has had ten fights and it was always a race against time to be in Newcastle tonight. He wanted to be here and trained very hard tome come out for Newcastle fans and now we more on to May 30 at The O2. It is a massive fight on a massive bill, and then we want all the big domestic fights.”