By Tom Donelson (BWAA)
Member Boxing Writers Association of America
Anthony Joshua faced his toughest battle against Wladimir Klitschko who was fighting father time along fighting Joshua. For Klitschko, this was a legacy fight for to win would put him among the elites of boxing history as a three time champion of the division. No fighter had won more heavyweight titles and fought in more than Klitschko who along with his brother dominated the heavyweight for much of this century.
From 2004 to 2015, there was Klitschko at the top of the heavyweight division and Wladimir Klitschko attempted to win back his title in front of 90,000 British faithful in Wembley Stadium. Joshua had the home ring advantage.
The first round saw both men fighting a tactical fight as they used their jabs but Joshua landed a few solid body shots over the first three minutes and on my card won the first round because of landing his power shots with three left hooks to the body and a couple of right hands. The punches did little damage but they scored.
Wladimir began the second round with a right hand and using more feints to disrupt Joshua’s rhythm. Joshua landed more jabs than he did in the first round but Klitschko used his experience to maneuver Joshua into position but like in the first round, he failed to land but one power shot. Close round but again I gave the round to Joshua.
Joshua began the third round by pushing the action round and he threw more punches over the first three rounds and this activity allowed to win first three rounds. At the quarter mark, I had Joshua up by 30-27 and the third round saw Wladimir wilting just a little bit.
Klitschko began the fourth round with two rights and Joshua landed one right hand of his own over the first minute but over the first half of the fight belong to the Ukrainian but Joshua landed a couple of combinations. This was the closet round to call but I gave it to Klitschko barely but it was close enough to go either way.
Anthony Joshua began the fifth round with a vengeance as he attacked with ferocity and landed two hooks that hurt Klitschko. Joshua sent Klitschko down with a combination but over the final minute and half, Klitschko hurt Joshua with five big hooks and five big rights that hurt Joshua but Joshua managed to stay standing in spite of big punches. Joshua tired over the final half of the round. The knock down gave Joshua a 10-8 but Klitsckho’s last half could have earned him a 9-10 round. (Showtime Steve Farhood scored it 10-9 and so did one of the judges.)
Wladimir began the sixth with his own attack and sent Joshua down with combinations and Joshua now had to survive the final half of the round. This was Klitschko round 10-8. I had the fight 57-55 in Joshua favor but Joshua looked more fatigue than Klitschko at this point of the fight. Steve Farhood had it 57-56 as he scored the fifth 10-9.
Wladimir Klitschko showed confidence as he dominated the seventh round as Joshua landed only one combination of subsequent and Wladimir won the round using his jab and following up with combinations. I had the fight 66-65 in favor Joshua at the half way mark.
Wladimir Klitschko use his jab more effectively throughout the round but Joshua fought much better in the eighth than he did the previous two round and this round was closer but I gave it to Klitschko and have the fight even 75-75.
Klitschko started the ninth round with a combination and then clinch but Joshua nailed Klitschko with two body shots to keep Klitschko from clinching. This round proved to be close as Joshua nailed Klitschko with body shots and right hand while Klitschko landed his jabs. I gave Joshua the round and had Joshua in the lead, 85-84. Showtime Steve Farhood had it even after nine.
The tenth was close as both fighters jabbed and both fighter landed solid rights but Wladimir landed two big rights at the bell and this may allowed him to win the round. 94-94 even with two rounds left.
Joshua landed big shots to begin the eleventh and forced Klitschko to retreat. Joshua put the pressure in the middle of the round, sent Klitschko down twice before a final combination sent Wladimir into the rope. Joshua nailed Wladimir with one more combination before referee stopped the fight. The big shot that changed the round was an upper cut and this started the end for Klitschko.
The fight showed that Wladmir Klitschko fought father time for ten rounds but the eleventh, father time and Joshua power ended the fight for the Ukrainian. Joshua showed that he was the best heavyweight as he beat an invigorated Klitschko, who for ten rounds showed all the guile and skills that allowed him to win 25 heavyweight bouts. Joshua survived a knock down and fatigue to rediscover his endurance to overcome a great champion.
This was a great heavyweight battle and it was a changing of guard as Joshua is now the king of the heavyweight and Klitschko’s era is now over. I had the fight 94-94 going into the eleventh and Steve Farhood had Klitschko ahead 95-94. Two judges had it 96-93, 95-93 for Joshua and one had it 95-93 for Klitschko. This was a close fight going into the eleventh round and Joshua showed that the hype was real by beating the best heavyweight for the past decade.