Photos by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
The scheduled 12-rounder was televised on Showtime in the U.S.
The match featured several knockdowns, including one for Joshua in an entertaining fight between two of the best Heavyweights in the world. It was also a veritable passing of the torch because the last person Klitschko fought, Tyson Fury, has done nothing significant in the Heavyweight division since winning the lineal Heavyweight crown.
Joshua, a 27-year-old Olympian of the U.K., won the IBF Heavyweight title in 2016 after Tyson relinquished the IBF title (he would later also vacate his WBO and WBA titles in order to deal with his depression and cocaine use).
Since then, Joshua, WBC champion Deontay Wilder, and WBO champion Joshua Parker have all attempted to make their case as the best Heavyweight in the world.
Today, however, Joshua made his most definitive claim to the Heavyweight crown by defeating Klitschko, a 41-year-old native of Ukraine who ruled the Heavyweight division for nearly a decade.
In the early rounds, both men exchange cautious punches and were careful to not make mistakes. However, in Round 5, Joshua landed a thunderous left hook, followed by a series of short shots that dropped Klitschko and forced him into survival mode for the rest of the round.
Then, in Round 6, Klitschko landed a picture-perfect one-two combination that dropped Joshua for the first time in his career and, in a complete reversal from the previous round, it was Joshua who was now in survival mode.
The action would then return to the careful chess match that it had been before the knockdown. Then in Round 11, perhaps after sensing some urgency, Joshua took the center of the ring to land bombs–hooks and uppercuts reigned in from both hands and dropped Klitschko two times.
Klitschko got back to his feet both times, but as Joshua sense that victory was imminent, Joshua pushed Klitschko to the ropes to begin a flurry that forced the referee to stop the fight.
“I’m not perfect but I’m trying,” Joshua said. “I got a bit emotional because I know I have doubters. I’m only going to improve. Sometimes you can be a phenomenal boxer, but boxing is about character. When you go into the trenches that’s when you find out who you really are.
“I came out and I won – that’s how far I had to dig. I came back and I fought my heart out,” Joshua said.
“The best man won tonight and it’s an amazing moment for boxing,” Klitschko said. “Anthony was better today than I. It’s really sad that I didn’t make it tonight. I was planning to do it. It didn’t work, but all the respect to Anthony,” Klitschko said.
“Of course we have a rematch in the contract. I need to analyze and see what the heck happened. I wish I could have raised my hands, but congrats to him. He got up, he fought back and he won the titles,” Klitschko said.
There may be a rematch with Klitschko in the future, but Joshua also called out Tyson Fury as well. Though already a unified champion, there are still stiff challenges for Joshua in fellow titleholders Deontay Wilder and Joshua Parker.
Which matchup would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments section below.
Check out the stoppage below:
Gabe Rivas has written for Round By Round Boxing since July of 2013. He studies Literature and Philosophy, tutors English, and teaches Boxing. Follow him on Instagram and on Twitter @GabeRivas03.