In a pivotal bout that had implications far beyond titles and trinkets, Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko engaged in one of the best Heavyweight battles in years and left it all in the ring, leaving no doubt the legitimacy and toughness of both competitors. The back and forth bout featured four knockdowns, constant drama and a finish for the ages as Joshua had to go through hell and back to stop Klitschko in the 11th round.
A tentative start by both fighters turned very violent very quickly in an incredible fifth round where both Joshua and Klitschko battered each other in what will certainly be one of the best rounds of this year, highlighted by Joshua dropping Klitschko. Joshua looked worse for wear enduring the heavy exchanges and calamity fell upon him as Klitschko dropped a spent Joshua in the sixth to even up the count.
From that point forward, the bout turned into a battle of endurance and attrition looking very much up for grabs as the championship rounds rolled on. It was in the 11th when Joshua uncorked a vicious uppercut that signaled the beginning of the end for the long-reigning Ukrainian champ, sending him down twice in that round and using whatever he had left in the tank to batter him against the ropes drawing the stoppage in front of a raucous 90,000 fans in Wembley Stadium.
With the win, Joshua stands alone as the face of the Heavyweight division beating who will ultimately be remembered as one of the most dominant champions in the history of the sport in his 20th fight. Though Joshua may hold the hardware and the favor of the sport, he cannot truly call himself champion as Tyson Fury lurks in waiting. Joshua called for a bout with Fury, who has been inactive due to substance abuse issues since beating Klitschko nearly two years ago.
Klitschko’s attempt to regain the Heavyweight title at the age of 41 fell gloriously short, but he put on the kind of performance that suggests that only the truly worthy will test him and would certainly be a live dog should a rematch with Fury or Joshua come to pass. Though derided throughout the most of his run as Heavyweight champion, Klitschko is sure to convince his doubters in defeat that he deserves the respect and recognition that long evaded him during his victories.