Anthony Joshua cemented his claim as boxing’s newest superstar in an epic 11th round TKO win over former heavyweight juggernaut Wladimir Klitschko. In front of 90,000 fans in London’s Wembley Arena, Joshua withstood the biggest test of his budding career and captured the vacant WBA heavyweight title, while retaining his IBF belt, in the process.
“I’m not perfect but I’m trying,” Joshua said during the post-fight interview. “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.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist has already achieved mega-stardom in his native country and was looking to make a huge statement in this fight against the man that dominated the heavyweight ranks as champion for a decade.
At the outset, the two fighters felt each other out, testing the range of their respective jabs and avoiding relative danger. The early rounds were definitely tilted towards Joshua. Then in the 5th round, Joshua unleashed a combination early that floored Klitschko.
Klitschko stood up and finished the round strong as Joshua seemed shocked by the resurgence of aggression after feeling his power.
Round 6 is when the tables truly turned as Joshua was on the wrong end of an ego-bruising right hand by Klitschko. Joshua got up at the count of 8, but continued to look a bit stunned.
Rounds 7 through 10 saw Joshua fighting back and regaining his confidence. Having never gone past seven rounds before this fight, many questions lingered about Joshua’s stamina and ability to perform in the championship rounds. Those questions were answered handily.
In round 11, Joshua rocked Klitschko with a vicious uppercut that felled the former champion for the second time. It was clear that Joshua’s mythological and devastating power was real. When Klitschko got up, Joshua unleashed a combo that floored him again before a final flurry in the corner forced referee David Fields to stop the contest.
Judge Steve Weisfeld scored the bout, at the time of the stoppage, 95-93. The other two judges - Don Trella and Nelson Vazquez – had Joshua up 96-93 and 95-93, respectively.
At 27 years old, Joshua is now primed to be the answer boxing has been looking for as to who would be the world’s biggest attraction.
At 41 years old, Klitschko attempted to become the second heavyweight to win a world title in his forties. The first was George Foreman, who did so with his historic 10th round KO over Michael Moorer in 1994.
The possibilities now for Joshua are plenty. There is a rematch possibility in the contract with Klitschko and after that riveting performance anyone would love to see that.
However, if Joshua is looking ahead to newer challenges, there is the obscure WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker from New Zealand and WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who is still looking to become an icon in America.
During the post-fight interview, while praising Klitschko for being a legend and a warrior, Joshua took the time to address Tyson Fury, who has berated him on several occasions. Although Fury is still on suspension for usage of a banned substance, Joshua enthusiastically expressed his desire to fight the fellow Brit.
“Tyson Fury where you at, baby,” Joshua said. “Come on – that’s what they want to see. I just want to fight everyone. I’m really enjoying this right now.”
The spectacle made it all too clear that Joshua understands his place in Britain as a superstar and his goal is to silence any doubters in his home country before giving the rest of the world a chance at his belts.
After signing a blockbuster deal with Showtime Sports and remaining undefeated with a perfect KO record, Anthony Joshua is boxing’s newest star and soon will be the new beacon of hope for the sport which continues its comeback.