Three years ago yesterday, Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko put on one of the great fights of the 2010s, an instant heavyweight classic, with Joshua out-slugging Klitschko and getting an 11th round stoppage win to retain the IBF heavyweight titles and add the vacant WBA belt.
In front of a huge crowd at Wembley Stadium, the 41-year-old Klitschko may have come up short, but he gained even more respect for his career with a tremendous performance against a younger, unbeaten star on the rise — in some ways, it was the performance that his long run as champion lacked, and was routinely criticized for lacking. He faced adversity, and not only did he fight back, and hard, he came incredibly close to stopping the celebrated Brit in his own backyard.
Klitschko never did fight again, retiring with a career record of 64-5 (53 KO), though once or twice a year the rumor floats around that he might consider a comeback. Now 44, it grows less likely by the year, even considering Wladimir has at a glance stayed in excellent physical condition.
Yesterday, on the anniversary fight, he joked on social media and paid respect to Joshua once again:
3 years ago today, I let @anthonyfjoshua win. Felt sorry for the little guy, lol . Joke. Great Champion, classic fight, we both grew tremendously since this match. Thanks fans for supporting both of us! #obsessed pic.twitter.com/3Qnk7tOS8s— Klitschko (@Klitschko) April 29, 2020
Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) went on to add the WBO title with a win over Joseph Parker the following year, and won three straight following the Klitschko fight before dropping a stunning upset to Andy Ruiz Jr last June, which was avenged in December.
The 30-year-old Joshua is currently slated to face IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev at some point, with the fight being pushed off its original June 20 date.