LONDON — Welcome to the Anthony Joshua era. The undefeated fighter staked his claim to heavyweight supremacy by overcoming a sixth round knockdown to stop former undisputed champion and future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in 11 rounds before 90,000 rabid fans at Wembley Stadium.
Although Klitschko displayed spry footwork in the early rounds, it was Joshua who was the active puncher. The titlist kept Klitschko backpeadling with pushing jabs and overhand rights. However, Klitschko remained dangerous by catching most of those shots on the gloves and landed several strong right hands in the second and fourth.
A dramatic fifth round saw Joshua storm out and hurt Klitschko with a clubbing right hand. He continued the blitzing assault to cut Klitschko over the left eye and score a knockdown. The challenger proved resilient by crashing in multiple left hooks to stun a fatigued Joshua to close the stanza.
It would be the patented Klitschko 1-2 followed by a left hook that produced the most perilous moment of Joshua’s career in round six. He was dropped early in the round and forced to survive off the backfoot as Klitschko pursued with lead hooks. Klitschko built his momentum further by controlling the action with a ramrod jab in rounds 7-8.
Gradually, Joshua worked his way back into the fight. He outworked Klitshko in rounds 9-10 by focusing his attack on the body. However, Klitschko still was in a position to close the bout, as evidenced by a heavy right hand that punctuated the 10th.
Joshua seized the final advantage in the 11th by exploiting Klitschko’s clinching. He rocked the former champion with a vicious right uppercut that lead to another knockdown. Joshua quickly floored Klitschko again with a right hand for a third knockdown. Klitschko rose again but was trapped in a corner and unable to hold, forcing the referee to call the bout.
Joshua improves to 19-0 and is now the unified IBF and WBA champion. A rematch clause is in place. Should Klitschko not exercise it, Joshua named-checked domestic rival and lineal champion Tyson Fury as a potential opponent.