Joshua added the vacant British heavyweight belt to his Commonwealth crown with a seventh round stoppage at The O2, initially staggering Whyte with a looping right before ending the contest with a savage uppercut off the same hand.
It was the first time the 2012 Olympic champion had been taken beyond three rounds and he took several heavy shots including a big left hook in the second that offered a genuine test of his chin.
Whyte, who won their only previous meeting as amateurs in 2009 and branded Joshua a “scumbag” and “fake” in the build-up, made him dig deep for his 15th victory in a bad tempered clash that could be restaged at the same venue on August 9.
“I’ll definitely fight him again because he can provide me with what I need to progress, which is tough rounds,” said Joshua, who admitted he is not ready to face WBA and WBO champion Tyson Fury.
“Kevin Johnson and Denis Bakhtov were supposed to give me rounds, but it was Whyte who actually did it, so why not use him again?
“There’s venom – I’m a cool person but he can throw that off because I want to hurt him and get him out of there.
“He’s the perfect opponent for me. I learned more against Whyte than I did in all 14 of my previous fights. I enjoyed it, it was a good fight.
“I’ve always said it’s hard to jump to world level after two years. Everyone has high expectations, but people need to understand that it takes time. That was a fight that I needed.”
Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that Dereck Chisora is a possible next opponent if Joshua elects to defend his British title and hinted that from now he may be confined to pay per view after stating that the sales for Saturday night “have blown my mind”.
An action-packed evening that included victories for Chris Eubank Jr and Tony Bellew but defeats for Luke Campbell and Kevin Mitchell was not without controversy, however.
Joshua and Whyte traded blows after the first round had ended, resulting in both entourages pouring through the ropes in a potentially explosive stand-off until the corners and security were able to restore order and clear the ring.
“Did I think he would be disqualified? No, that’s fighting. It’s not like this is golf. It’s fighting and there’s bad blood. The security did a great job of calming it down,” Joshua said.
Joshua admits his performance was affected by emotion in a contest that at times he likened to a “street fight”, but shrugs off the moment he was hurt by previously unbeaten Whyte in the second.
“It’s boxing, it happens. Some people get sparked out at that stage because they haven’t been taught the fundamentals of ride shots, slip shots, hold, hit back,” he said.
“No matter how much you train as a boxer, when you have someone you don’t like in the other corner, you go to war.
“I had to clear the red mist and getting back to doing what I do. That’s why I took a round off in the third to get myself back together.”
Eubank Jr won the final eliminator for Daniel Jacobs’ WBA middleweight title after overpowering Gary O’Sullivan in seven rounds with the tough Irishman, who had taken a fearful battering, withdrawn by his corner.
Eubank’s father watched at ringside and declared the win was the moment his son became his own man.
“He has his own skill sets and is his own person. I’m really proud that now he has stepped out of my shadow and into his own,” he said.
“I’ll still be there, because I have to be – I’m the patriarch and boxing is a dangerous business. I want to clear the path for him.”
Enzo Maccarinelli beat Roy Jones Jr with a devastating fourth-round knockout at the VTB Arena in Moscow.
The 35-year-old got the better of the opening two rounds before the 46-year-old Jones Jr, now a Russian citizen, rallied to get back into the non-title cruiserweight contest in the third.
But in the fourth, Maccarinelli dropped Jones Jr with a big uppercut, and although he beat the count to resume the fight, the Welshman pinned Jones Jr against the ropes and stunned him with another uppercut before a right hook sent him face first to the canvas and referee Ingo Barrabas waved off the fight.
Bellew was crowned European cruiserweight champion with a unanimous points victory over rugged Polish fighter Mateusz Masternak.
Bellew finished with a flourish after battering Masternak in the 12th and was awarded a 115-113 115-112 decision.