By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
The Heavyweight division was back in the spot light on Saturday night with more than 140 countries tuning-in and 90,000 spectators in attendance. The stage was set for a massive heavyweight showdown.
Both fighters had been respectful throughout the build up, there was no trash talking or punches thrown before the fight unlike other heavyweight match-ups before. This fight sold because the world wanted to see if the young guy from Watford could not only beat the older and wiser fighter but knock him out to.
Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53KOs) made his way to the ring first and was greeted with the predicted jeers from the mostly British faithful. He looked focused and ready to silence the home crowd.
Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19KOs) looked completely unfazed as he casually made the long walk to the ring with his initial’s in flames.
Once the national anthems were played, Michael Buffer announced the fighters it was ‘Lets get ready to rumble!’
The first round was tentative as to be expected but not much from either fighter although Joshua just edged it. The second was pretty much the same, there was a good straight hand from the Ukrainian but the young champion fired back to nick another round.
Into the third and both fighters started to let their shots go but once again Joshua was more busy. The 41 year old was bouncing around but not doing enough to score in my opinion.
Finally Dr Steelhammer scored early and unleashed a big right hand which sends a reminder to the Londoner that he still has power at his ripe age. The old master issues a warning and nicks another close round.
The fifth round was one for the memory bank as Joshua shook his opponent with a left hook but it was an accumulation of quick punches that finally put Klitschko down. After beating the count Joshua went for the kill but ended up gassing himself out and on the back foot due to a massive left hand from Klitschko. It was an absorbing round of heavyweight boxing that really set this fight alight and my wife almost into early labour.
With a cut over his left eye and somehow in the ascendancy after being knocked down Wladimir sensed blood. Joshua was blowing hard and looked tiered which could have been due to the extra weight he was carrying.
Klitschko eventually found the target in the sixth with a huge right hand that connected high on the head and floored the Brit for the first time in his career. Joshua with a massive smile on his face was in serious trouble but managed to get back to his feet and get through the round.
The young champion used every second of the break and did seem to have recovered slightly but the 41 year old was rolling back the years, he looked the fresher of the two and took the seventh easily.
In round eight Joshua was looking steady on his feet again but Klitschko won another round with the jab to make it even on my scorecard. Joshua had never been beyond the eighth and was stepping into uncharted territory.
AJ found a second wind in the ninth and attacked the body which got Klitschko’s attention. Nothing much was coming back from the former champion, maybe the fight was starting to take it’s toll on his older body.
The tenth was busy with jabs by both fighters but Joshua put together a couple of nice combinations and was the more aggressive fighter, although Klitschko did land a big right hand on the bell.
The champion decided to go for broke in the eleventh and came out firing. As Klitschko went to engage he was caught with a devastating uppercut that sent him down to the canvas. With AJ looking to finish the job he sent his opponent down for the second time in the round. Once again Kllitschko showed terrific character to beat the count but Joshua connected with more savage combinations which prompted the referee to intervene and stop the fight.
After the fight Joshua said, “As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and respect your opponent, so a massive shout-out to Wladimir Klitschko for taking part.”
“I’m not going to say too much in case he wants to come back and fight me again, but in terms of the boxing Hall of Fame and the boxing arena, he’s a role model in and out of the ring.” Said the new unified IBF, Super WBA & IBO heavyweight champion.
What a fight for the new era of heavyweight boxing! If this is the last time we are to see the former heavyweight king of the last decade, then he can leave with his head held high. He can leave knowing that the heavyweight division is in good hands with Anthony Joshua.
He has passed the torch onto a guy that is as respectful as him and will be a role model to the next generation.