On Saturday night, April 26, 2017, Anthony “AJ” Joshua, became the new king of the Heavyweight division live on Showtime as he unified the division with an 11th-round TKO of long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko before a record 90,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Joshua battled through the first knockdown of his career to successfully defend his IBF crown and win the vacant WBA and IBO titles and thus, became a unified champion.
Joshua proved that the moment indeed is not too big for him as he remained a perfect 19-0 with 19 knockouts.
This was a night of firsts for Joshua as he had previously never been knocked down in a fight, and also never been past the seventh round in his previous fights. Saturday, Joshua overcame both of these adversities to prove himself a true champion.
Joshua knocked Klitschko down twice in the 11th round before referee David Fields stepped in to safeguard the unprotected former champion at 2:25 of the next to last round.
Read on for three things we learned from Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko.
The Anthony Joshua Era is Here
Anthony Joshua won gold for his country in his native land during the 2012 London Olympics. Since then, the British boxing fans knew they had a star on their hands, embracing the young Joshua as the next Lennox Lewis or perhaps even the next Mike Tyson.
Prior to this fight many critics questioned Joshua’s lack of competition. Joshua became the IBF world champion by defeating the lesser known, and even lesser proven, Charles Martin (24-1-1, 22 KOs), in an odd early knockout, which some even viewed as a dive.
He then went on to defend the title against Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina, which many considered a move to avoid the kingpins of the division by not seeking a unification bout.
On Saturday night, in front of a sold out record breaking crowd of 90,000 people, Joshua solidified he is the real thing. The moment was not too big and AJ is no fluke; he is the future of the Heavyweight division. He is talented, charismatic and knocking out everyone in his path.
Having now 19 wins with 19 knockouts, the Tyson comparisons are sure to continue. Joshua has proven this is his time, this is his era and he is not stopping.
Lennox Lewis may have explained it best (via Boxing News Online).
“The Heavyweight division is thriving again and there’s some good young talent out there, and Joshua is now at the top,” said Lewis. “He took this risk to get there, he went after the big man and now he’s the man that all the rest will be coming after. It’s hard to say how long he will be champion for, but with his mentality–he’s always hungry–I expect him to be at the top for a long time.”
Joshua stopping Klitschko in the 11th round in front of a sold out Wembley Stadium was simply iconic. It was a true storybook tale for the hungry young fighter to battle back and knock out the proven veteran in the late rounds. Joshua did just that in front of 90,000 of his biggest fans.
It was a moment in boxing history; it was his moment. Ladies and gentlemen, Anthony Joshua has arrived.
Heavyweight Boxing is Back!
Maybe as an American, I am bitter, but for a good reason. Wladimir Klitschko’s extended reign, without a doubt, took the excitement out of the Heavyweight division, and we have been desperately longing for its resurgence.
Anthony Joshua stopping Klitchko has opened up a whole new side to the Heavyweight division. Even if he did not retire Klitsschko, he as least brought a whole new side of competition out of him.
Joshua knocked Klitschko down once in the fifth and twice in the 11th before referee David Fields stepped in to protect the defenseless former champion.
We can officially say Heavyweight boxing is coming back with a bang. These top Heavyweight guys are huge, they are athletic and they have knockout power. This is the excitement that the division has needed for a long time.
As Deontay Wilder explained previously, the Heavyweight division has become exciting once again.
“The Heavyweight division is changing hands,” said Wilder. “Now that these belts are changing hands, everyone feels like they got this opportunity [and] they are the next champion.”
With the American, Wilder, holding the WBC Heavyweight title, New Zealand’s Joseph Parker holding the WBO title and now with Anthony Joshua unifying the IBF, IBO and WBA titles, the Heavyweight division is becoming something to really focus on.
It seems Wilder has his sights set on a summer 2017 unification with Parker, and for good reason. If Wilder defeats Parker, he positions himself for a possible undisputed world Heavyweight championship fight between himself and Joshua.
Wilder’s promoter Lou DiBella discussed the possibility with SkySports. “If down the line, you’re looking at Joshua and Deontay, two good looking, well spoken, massive Heavyweights with tremendous credentials were to meet for a total unification of the Heavyweight division–that’s a massive fight,” said DiBella.
The ramifications of a unification between two superstars like Wilder and Joshua would be huge. To put it into perspective, there has not been an undisputed Heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis, over 16 years ago.
A Wilder versus Joshua unification fight from two rival countries would be monumental for the sport of boxing.
Never Give Up
Anthony Joshua started the sixth round six by telling Klitschko: “You can’t hurt me”–only to be dropped for the first time in his career by a razor sharp one-two combination.
A period of survival followed for Joshua as he recovered and regained enough confidence to lead himself into the final rounds. Eventually he secured two further knockdowns in the 11th and forced referee David Fields to intervene with Klitschko unable to defend himself from another heavy flood of punches.
As if Joshua’s ability to muster back from absolute fatigue and being dropped wasn’t inspiring enough, he used his words post-fight to breathe life into those in attendance and watching on television.
“Boxing is about character, as I said from the get go it will be a boxing classic, find what you believe in and give it a go,” said Joshua.
With this fight Joshua has proven that even when you are down in life, you can still never be counted out, as long you just keep fighting back. Joshua may have felt the canvas for the first time, but he simply did not let his dreams stay there.
“I came out and I won, I didn’t go into the slugfest, I came back and fought my heart out,” said Joshua. “That is what I am about.”
Spoken like a true champion.