Ninety-thousand fans filled Wembley Stadium today, and no one should leave the grounds feeling cheated of their money after seeing the heavyweight firefight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, in what wound up one of the best heavyweight fights in recent memory.
Joshua stayed undefeated, going to 19-0 (19 KO) with an 11th round stoppage of Klitschko (64-5, 53 KO) in a dramatic, back-and-forth fight that lived up to the hype and exceeded most reasonable expectations for action.
At the time of the stoppage, BLH had the fight 95-94 for Joshua (Scott) and 95-94 for Klitschko (Wil), to give you an idea of how competitive this was.
Klitschko, 41, started a little slow, and was cut and dropped in the fifth round. But just when it seemed like maybe time had fully caught up with him, and that he was a little overmatched against a younger, quicker opponent, he came back. In that same round, Klitschko rallied to hurt Joshua, setting up a sixth round knockdown of his own that shifted the momentum in a big way.
The Ukrainian veteran and former world champion pressed on after that, winning rounds against a tiring Joshua, who needed to and eventually did find his second wind. In the ninth, Joshua got things back in hand somewhat, ending a string of Klitschko rounds, and the 10th was highly competitive, too, either way you scored it.
But the 11th was the story. Joshua, 27, stormed out full of fire, looking to close the show, and close it he did. He rocked Wladimir early in the round, dropping him for a second time. On unsteady legs, Klitschko got back up and walked forward — he was wobbly enough that the referee probably could have stopped the fight, but he let Klitschko continue. Moments later, Klitschko was down again, but he got up once more.
Klitschko was done, though. His legs gone, he was backed into a corner once more by Joshua, who unloaded with heavy shots. Before Klitschko could go down again, the referee stepped in to stop the fight. Klitschko didn’t complain.
You couldn’t have scripted a better passing of the torch sort of moment, and for drama it certainly eclipsed Tyson Fury’s 2015 win over Klitschko, though this fight also put a big spotlight on just how good Fury was that night in nullifying everything Klitschko likes to do in the ring.
There are now several big fights that could await Joshua. As the IBF and now WBA titleholder, he could unify with Deontay Wilder (WBC) or Joseph Parker (WBO). If Tyson Fury gets into shape and wants to fight again, that’s a potentially massive fight. But there is a rematch clause in the contract, too, and Wladimir expressed interest after the fight in doing that.
What did you think of the fight, and with all the drama and the huge atmosphere, is this a frontline Fight of the Year contender?
- Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KO) stopped former titleholder Darleys Perez (33-3-2, 21 KO) in the ninth round of a WBA lightweight eliminator.
- Scott Quigg (33-1-2, 24 KO) outpointed Viorel Simion (21-2, 9 KO) over 12 rounds. Scores were 115-113, 117-111, and 117-111.
- Katie Taylor (5-0, 3 KO) stayed unbeaten, stopping Nina Meinke (5-1, 2 KO) in the seventh round.