Joshua vs Klitschko: A Heroic Defeat

Six years ago today Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua went to war in front of a huge crowd at Wembley Stadium and to the surprise of many it turned out to be one of the best heavyweight fights anyone had seen in years. And while no one knew it at the time, Klitschko’s brave and noble effort proved to be his final ring appearance, the capstone to an extraordinary career. So what better excuse could we have to relive the excitement and mark the anniversary of a fight that appears destined to be regarded as a latter-day classic? Herewith our exclusive report, along with the full fight video. Check it out:  

With the dust now settled on a truly epic heavyweight battle, it is the loser of the contest who emerges with his reputation enhanced. Wladimir Klitschko, the man who according to so many killed interest in the heavyweight division with his jab-and-clinch boxing style, gave us the most enthralling and noble performance of his long and illustrious career. In fact, he deserved more than the kudos being heaped on him following one of the best heavyweight battles in years, the final stoppage a tad premature in the eyes of this observer. At the very least, he now deserves a rematch.

Joshua sends Wlad down in round five.

Klitschko, revitalized in his role as the underdog, backed up Joshua from the outset, snapping home his jab with authority and serving notice of his intention to reclaim the crown. The younger man appeared excessively cautious in the opening rounds and the result was a cagey affair loaded with riveting tension. Klitschko’s underrated boxing skills nullified Joshua’s attempts to attack and the Englishman looked to be struggling under the weight of expectations. The older fighter appeared imperious, his superior movement and defensive skills, coupled with fluid ring control and timing, giving him the edge.

But in round five the pendulum swung violently in the opposite direction as the inevitable explosion was activated by a Joshua assault that put “Dr. Steelhammer” on the canvas. After Klitschko beat the count, the Briton launched an all-out attack in an attempt to secure the win but Klitschko has been there before and weathered the storm expertly. Joshua burned himself out and suddenly found himself teetering on the precipice of disaster. And in the very next round a Klitschko win looked inevitable as he sent a gassed-out, wobbling Joshua crashing to the canvas with a perfectly-thrown right hand.

Wladimir Klitschko knocks down Joshua
The ex-champion scores a knockdown of his own in round six.

No doubt Klitschko will watch the video and regret not unloading all his artillery to seize the victory after a dazed Joshua climbed to his feet, but Wladimir has always been a patient and controlled finisher. He would have been confident that Joshua, mouth agape and seemingly spent, was finished, that it was only matter of taking his time and breaking his opponent down as the match went on. Indeed, at this point Joshua was struggling to get off any shots at all, as Wladimir probed and prodded for the opportunity to end the fight. However, Klitschko too was probably still in recovery mode from the violence of rounds five and six and would have been content to cruise to a points victory.

It was not to be. Joshua sprang from his stool at the bell for round eleven and ambushed the older man, a left hook appearing to stun the ex-champ. He recovered, only to be blasted by a ferocious uppercut that mangled his neurotransmitters before Joshua’s follow-up assault put him on the floor again. Wladimir beat the count and tried to fight back as Joshua landed punch after punch, sending the veteran to the canvas for a third time with a vicious left hook. But showing the courage of a true warrior, Wladimir Klitschko refused to surrender, hauling himself to his feet once more in an act that made a mockery of the critics who have always questioned his heart.

Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua

Joshua moved in for the kill but his punches lacked accuracy as Wladimir covered up and looked to neutralize the attack. But before Klitschko could establish distance and fully regain his equilibrium, referee David Fields moved in and stopped the fight. In my opinion, Wladimir appeared in full control of himself and deserved the benefit of the doubt. But there were no complaints from the gallant ex-champion; he never has been one to whine or complain. However, in this man’s opinion fight fans were deprived of a possible final round comeback by Klitschko over an exhausted Joshua. Speculation to be sure, but a big “what if” question which, in my opinion, Wladimir deserved a chance to answer.

The victor salutes the massive crowd at Wembley Stadium.

In the end, boxing has a fresh new face at the top of the heavyweight division, but the real story of the fight was how the man who ruled the big men for a full decade revitalized his career and his legacy with a courageous performance, losing valiantly to a young and devastating force of destruction in a battle that certainly stands as one of the most exciting ever held in the Land Of Hope And Glory.

— Gary Elbert  

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6 thoughts on “Joshua vs Klitschko: A Heroic Defeat

  • April 30, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Well written and well argued. But think about it, when was the older champioj ever able to put away the younger champion in a rematch after losing a competitive first fight? Think about Jersey Joe Walcott and Rocky Marciano, an awesome first fight and a devastating KO loss for Walcott in the second. I don’t think Wlad will do any better in a rematch. While he certainly deserves one if he asks for it, Id call it a day and go off into the sunset if I were him.

    • April 30, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Wlad is nowhere near a Jersey Joe Walcott and Joshua isn’t Marciano but I agree that a rematch might not be any different unless Wlad goes solely for the KO. It was an early stoppage. Wlad showed great composure all night, took Joshua’s best shots and still got back on his feet. The second-longest reigning heavyweight champion of all time deserved to fight through those championship rounds.

      • May 2, 2017 at 7:45 pm

        @Jerome: Knockout or nothing??? Klitschko was ahead on the score cards and had more gas in the tank!

    • May 2, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      AJ is the best in the business. If Klitschko is the only one that can send him to the canvas, then we should all be hoping for a rematch.

  • May 4, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    From the uppercut onwards I counted 33 AJ punches thrown and 0 WK punches. Can’t blame the ref for stopping the fight.

  • May 5, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I agree that the rematch is the most logical course of action. Certainly preferable to a routine Joshua title defence (IBF) vs Pulev. Wilder is angling to fight Parker in his own unification, while Fury will need at least one or two fights to get back into the swing of things. First fight was super-competitive, there’s enough intrigue to sell the rematch on that basis.


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