The champion delivered a stunning flurry of punches to ensure Povetkin was stopped for the first time in his career.
Tyson Fury has said Anthony Joshua is avoiding him after the WBA, WBO and IBF champion declared that Deontay Wilder is his "number one" next opponent.
"I've got my knockout streak back and I found my right hand again", Joshua said. "Povetkin is a very tough challenger". He provided that, he was good with left hook.
Anthony Joshua has retained his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight championship belts.
"So it will be a good competitive fight", added the 28-year-old, who is 10cm taller than his Russian opponent.
In an era of social media changing the way athletes connect with fans, both Wilder and Fury (who will square off December 1 on pay-per-view) are among the most captivating communicators in all of sports.
"I'm not too fussed who wins, to be honest", said the Briton. "My No. 1 would be Wilder".
"They mentioned if it's not [Deontay] Wilder it'll be [Dillian] Whyte, there's no mention of Tyson Fury, the lineal heavyweight champion of the world".
Joshua called out Deontay Wilder in the ring after knocking out Alexander Povetkin, while Whyte worked for Sky Sports' coverage. "Providing there's no mandatory challengers, who do you want? We're gonna put a poll out on Twitter, because anyone is welcome". But the division is slowly becoming the shot in the arm that the sport needs in the post-Floyd Mayweather era to bring the casual fans back in and Joshua appears as comfortable and poised as ever to be the last one standing as the face of the new era.
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Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, insists the world title unification fight has to happen next. "If Dillian (Whyte) wants to fight here he is also more than welcome". "Tonight was about getting that big banana skin of Alexander Povetkin out the way".
For Povetkin, this is likely to be his end at the top level and he gave it his all, wobbling Joshua on a few occasions early.
And the first round ended with Povetkin, stooping low, rocking Joshua with a right uppercut that drew blood from the champion's nose.
Joshua tipped the scales at 17st 8lbs 5oz at yesterday's weigh-in, with Povetkin nearly two stone lighter at 15st 12lbs.
With Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury set to fight in December, a heavyweight superfight involving the victor and Joshua will hopefully be in place for 2019.
Joshua began dictating with his movement from the fourth round and started to find his range with his right hook.
But Povetkin could do nothing to repel the punches that rained down on him in the deciding seventh round. Povetkin fell through the ropes as he courageously got to his feet and only just beat the count.
Another one landed in the third, nicely timed over Joshua's jab, with the Brit fully aware that he was now in a fight.