At Wembley Stadium, London, Anthony Joshua fought through hell to stop decorated future Hall-of-Famer, Wladimir Klitschko. In one of the most thrilling Heavyweight championships in recent memory, both fighters were buzzed on several occasions, suffering hard knockdowns along the way. Joshua tasted canvas for the first time as a professional during the 6th, while Klitschko fell twice more, being dropped in the 5th, and finally twice during the 11th.
Following this career-defining victory, Joshua remains unbeaten, with a perfect nineteen wins, all by knockout, as he leaves with the IBF and vacant WBA straps. Klitschko reduces to 64 wins, 5 defeats, 53 knockouts, but, surely off the back of a dramatic seesaw encounter such as this, will receive some major props from his long-serving band of detractors. For the record, Boxing Base had the action 96-92 for Klitschko going into the 11th.
The fight itself began as a chess match, with Klitschko bouncing on the balls of his feet, boxing well at range and making his foe miss by inches. Surprisingly, the underdog was edging the action. But then bam! Joshua flew out into the 5th, unloading a barrage of hellacious bombs on Klitschko en route to scoring the first knockdown of the fight. To make matters worse, Klitschko was cut badly over his left eye.
Klitschko beat the count and survived the round, only to drop Joshua a round later with a booming straight right. Joshua was now facing adversity for the first time in his career – serious resistance – on wobbly legs, with a stalking Klitschko letting his hands go. Joshua survived the onslaught, but the fight slipped away through rounds 7-10 as Klitschko stormed ahead on BB’s card.
In the 11th frame, Joshua ended a furious exchange with a sickening uppercut, snapping back Klitschko’s head. Klitschko was in peril once again, and this time Joshua would not let his man off the hook. Now in full beast mode, Joshua trapped a staggering Klitschko on the ropes, knocking down the former multi-titlist twice before the referee finally stepped in to stop the slaughter.
This contest answered a lot of questions about Joshua. The 27-year-old proved not only that he can hang with truly world-class opposition, but that he can adapt, survive, and overcome serious setbacks in a gruelling affair. In other words, he has the heart and guts to go with the physical tools. As for Klitschko, he also fought out of his skin tonight, putting in a sublime performance against a young, prime destroyer, who was a bona-fide favorite.
So what’s next? Joshua vs Klitschko II? A rematch is definitely an option for both fighters, if either would be eager enough to do it all again. If not, there’s a lot of business to be had for Joshua – and Klitschko if he’s still game – with the rest of today’s Heavyweight Top 10 players. Personally, I don’t believe Joshua will face half as much resistance from title holders like Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker, and even Tyson Fury should he resurface. For me, the most competitive fight out there is against Luis Ortiz, a multi-dimensional banger whose style should gel well.
But let’s just enjoy the moment for what it is. Anthony Joshua has assumed the throne, and is King of today’s boxing giants.
Joshua vs Klitschko: Undercard
- Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KO) edged closer to a Lightweight world title clash following a 9th round TKO of wily veteran Darleys Perez (32-3-2, 21 KO). The end wasn’t as conclusive as Campbell would have liked, with Perez basically retiring himself following some form of arm injury, but things seemed decisive enough. Perez was tough in the early rounds, but Campbell soon adapted, finding a home for his long, straight levers, managing to wobble Campbell in the 4th and 8th rounds. With any luck, WBC champion Jorge Linares, seated ringside tonight, will be Campbell’s next dance partner.
- Scott Quigg (33-2-1, 24 KO) battled to a hard-fought Unanimous Decision over a highly competitive, resilient Viorel Simion (21-2, 9 KO). Following twelve rounds of furious, back-and-forth action, scorecards for this IBF Featherweight eliminator came in at 117-111 (twice) and 115-113. In theory, Quigg should now be in line to collide with IBF ruler Lee Selby in the coming months.
- Katie Taylor (5-0, 3 KO) made a big statement in her first Junior Lightweight 10-rounder, stopping then-unbeaten Nina Meinke (5-1, 2 KO) in the 7th round. Taylor could now be in line for a crack at a world title before the year is through.
- Joe Cordina (2-0, 2 KO) got the night underway with a 1st round drumming of Sergij Vib (7-8, 4 KO), scoring two knocks downs before the referee halted the Junior Lightweight bout.
Give us your take on this tremendously satisfying gut check for Anthony Joshua, plus the rest of the Wembley action.