2017 Round Of The Year

Nominees:
Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez: Round 12.
Dominic Breazeale vs Izuagbe Ugonoh: Round 3.
James DeGale vs Badou Jack: Round 12.
Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko: Round 5.
Errol Spence vs Kell Brook: Round 10.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Roman Gonzalez I: Round 12.
Miguel Roman vs Orlando Salido: Round 8.
John Molina vs Ivan Redkach: Round 3.
Jarrett Hurd vs Austin Trout: Round 6.

Winner: Joshua vs Klitschko, Round 5.

The old, long-reigning king taking a last shot at regaining the throne from the new undefeated ruler. A crowd of 90,000 fans packing out a football stadium – one of the biggest to ever assemble for a heavyweight title fight. And a KO-artist who’d never been extended beyond seven rounds versus a wily veteran with eight unanimous 12-round victories to his name: All the ingredients were there for the Joshua vs Klitschko to be a classic. Like any great story, the resulting plot was full of twists and turns, with the two behemoths each appearing on the brink of securing a memorable victory at different points, but it was round five that epitomized the entire unforgettable struggle.

In a cagey first couple of rounds both men showed respect for the other’s power as they poked and prodded for openings from a distance. The fight began to warm-up in the third and fourth as they started to put more meat into their shots, but it wasn’t until the fifth that things really ignited. The champ came out lobbing bombs and officially called a halt to the feeling-out process, as a sustained two-fisted assault had Klitschko backing up, disorganized, and cut over the left eye.

Smelling blood, AJ tore into his man and a huge left hook rocked the Ukrainian’s head back. Klitschko covered up and then bent over in an effort to escape the barrage of clubbing rights and left hooks that followed, before sprawling forward onto the canvas under the sheer accumulation of shots coming his way. He rose almost instantly, but there was still over two minutes to get through in the round.

As they resumed, the old master circled the outskirts of the ring and tried to regroup; AJ stalked but his work from long range became noticeably more ragged. “Dr. Steelhammer” began to fire back, landing a beautiful left hook as a tired-looking Joshua plodded forward. They continued to trade leather but the shift in momentum was formally confirmed as the younger man ceded ground for the first time and began taking huge gulps of air. Now Klitschko pursued, landing a thunderous right and two heavy left hooks before smashing home a massive right uppercut, and suddenly it looked like the champion might fall apart. Visibly hurt, the Englishman tried to hold on for a respite but fell back on rubbery legs as Klitschko pushed him off and went for the finish.

AJ fired back gamely off the ropes but looked on the verge of crumbling and with less than half a minute left, it seemed they’d both punched themselves out, only for Klitschko to land another peach of a right uppercut. With his legs now looking like they were planted in cement, Joshua somehow managed to keep his hands up and even swing a few back to hold off the final assault, nodding in respect for the older man’s effort seconds before the bell called time on one of the great rounds of modern heavyweight boxing, and 2017’s Round Of The Year.    — Matt O’Brien

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