Joshua defeats Klitschko by 11th round TKO
IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) defeated long-reigning former world champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) by an 11th round TKO on Saturday night in front of a record-setting 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London.
Joshua dropped Klitschko three times and stopped him in a dramatic fight, retaining his IBF title and claiming the vacant WBA belt.
The 27-year-old Joshua also had to get off the canvas in the sixth round, and was in major trouble against Klitschko, 41, who was by far Joshua's best opponent.
Joshua started well and landed the better shots in the opening three rounds, but Klitschko came back with some solid punches in the fourth.
The Briton rocked Klitschko with several shots in the fifth before sending the Ukrainian crashing to the canvas.
Klitschko, his face swollen and cut over his left eye, got up and fought his way back into the fight.
By the end of the round, Kltschko had Joshua in trouble after landing a powerful left hook that rocked him, and in the following round he dropped Joshua with a crushing right hand. The first time Joshua had been knocked down in his career.
Klitschko nailed Joshua with hard shots by the ropes and in the following rounds continued to get the better of Joshua, who was going past the 7th for the first time and appeared gassed.
But by the 10th, Joshua had clearly gained his second wind and landed some big shots in the 11th, dropping Klitschko twice.
Klitschko bravely got back to his feet, but as Joshua blasted away at him along the ropes, referee David Fields stepped in and waved it off at 2:25 of the round.
"I'm not perfect, but I'm trying," said Joshua. "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.
"As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and you respect your opponent. A massive shout-out to Wladimir Klitschko for taking the fight. I don't want to say too much because I don't know if he wants to come back and fight me. He's a role model in the ring."
Although Joshua could end up fighting Klitschko in a rematch next, he is hoping for an all British showdown with former IBF/WBA/WBO champion Tyson Fury, who dethroned Klitschko by unanimous decision in 2015 before vacating the world titles due to a number of issues outside the ring.
"Tyson Fury, where you at, baby?" said Joshua. "Come on, that's what they want to see. I just want to fight everyone. I'm really enjoying this right now."
Klitschko said: "The best man won tonight, and it's an amazing moment for boxing. 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.
"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."
Also on the card, former WBA super bantamweight champion Scott Quigg (33-1-2, 24 KOs) battled to a 12 round unanimous decision over Romania's Viorel Simion (21-1, 9 KOs) in a IBF featherweight eliminator.
The Briton was fighting for the first time under Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and won by scores of 117-111, 117-111 and 115-113. Quigg will now challenge IBF 126lb champion Lee Selby.
2012 Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KOs) scored a ninth round stoppage over former world champion Darleys Perez (33-2-2, 21 KOs) in a WBA lightweight title eliminator.
Campbell was starting to dominate the Colombian when Perez pulled out of the bout citing an arm injury. The Briton is now set to challenge WBA 135lb champion Jorge Linares.