Ringside view: Joshua comes back from the brink in Klitschko thriller

Joe Hewlett 30/04/2017
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📸 Esther Lin

WEMBLEY STADIUM. LONDON, UK – Last night the world witnessed one of the best heavyweight fights of the last 25 years as Anthony Joshua emerged victorious.

Surrounded by all the hype in the build-up, the fight lived up to its expectations and more. Sylvester Stallone would have watched it thinking, ‘I could write another Rocky script from this fight.’

I was lucky enough to have had the privilege of covering the fight for World Boxing News in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium, in what was a rollercoaster of a battle between the titans.

Wladimir Klitschko, the challenger, walked into the ring first with his iconic theme tune of ‘Can’t stop’ by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Then there was Joshua’s entrance. Lit with flames in his initials, the Brit strolled out to rendition of songs that included Notorious BIG to receive a hero’s reception from 90,000 spectators.

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The opening couple of rounds were a cagey affair for both men, with Joshua looking the busier whilst Klitschko looking more relaxed.

The fight opened from round four onwards with AJ pressuring the Ukrainian with a flurry of hooks to the head and body.

Round five and six saw the tables turned and produced two knockdowns, but the cause for concern was in the sixth with Joshua looking in a heap of trouble following a ferocious right hook.

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However, the 27-year-old displayed the spirit of a true champion, battling through to eventually triumph in the eleventh after sending Klitschko to the floor three times.

After the fight, the newly crowned IBO and WBA ‘super’ champion instantly called out Tyson Fury, saying: ‘Fury where are you baby?’ with an animated crowd roaring with sheer delight. Fury responded on Twitter to say, ‘challenge accepted.’ The heavyweight extended his unbeaten streak to 19 with all his fights coming inside the distance.

The fights for Joshua await, with likes of Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker and Fury waiting in the wings, the opportunities are endless. Eddie Hearn will be licking his lips at the prospect of future big money spinners.

Klitschko, on the other hand, has admitted he won’t rush into his next decision. The 41-year-old may have lost the fight, but ironically, his defeat to Joshua has cemented his place in the hall-of-fame legacy. It was the best Klitschko we had witnessed in years. He was a whisker away from winning in the sixth when he sent AJ flying to the canvas. He even celebrated, thinking that the fight was over.

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Post-fight, the two-time champion was as gentlemen like as ever, praising his opponent and insisting he was ‘the better man.’

Despite there being a rematch clause in the contract, it is hard to see how the legend comes back from such a devastating knock-out. If he is to come back, it will only be for a rematch against Joshua but one suspects he may decide to call it a day and hang his gloves up.

If so, then the whole boxing world will stand up and applaud him for being such a wonderful servant to the game. And if the rematch does happen, then the world will anticipate another thriller.

Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95