Anthony Joshua produced a dramatic late knockout victory over Wladimir Klitschko in an epic heavyweight world title fight at London’s Wembley Stadium Saturday.
Nigerian-born Joshua seemed headed for his first professional defeat when he was left prone on the canvas in the sixth round, but produced a brutal late onslaught to stop Klitschko in the 11th round.
Joshua, 27, took his stunning record to 19 wins from 19 fights by adding the WBA title to his IBF belt after coming out tops in a classic heavyweight unification clash in front of a record 90,000 crowd.
The Ukrainian legend kept Joshua at bay with probing jabs in the first and stunned him with a stinging right hand in the fourth. But the Nigerian-born Briton stormed out for the fifth and floored Klitschko with a brutal barrage of punches.
Klitschko unleashed a searing left hook to escape the danger, before uncorking a searing right hand to dump the home favourite heavily on the canvas in the sixth.
With Joshua dragged into the longest fight of his career, he tried to claw back control with two big right hands in the ninth, but was immobilized by a piston-like right from Klitschko in the 10th.
Joshua raised the ante in the 11th, and a jolting uppercut left Klitschko wobbling before he was sent crashing to the canvas by further punches.
The veteran Ukrainian beat the count in a bid to prolong the fight, but Joshua was not about to lose his flawless KO record as he unloaded a barrage of heavy artillery that forced referee David Fields to signal the finish.
“What can I say? 19-0, three and a half years in the game. As I said, I’m not perfect but I’m trying and if you don’t take part you’re going to fail,” Joshua said ringside.
“As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and you respect your opponent. So a massive shout out to Wladimir Klitschko.”
Klitschko, who suffered his first stoppage defeat since Lamon Brewster beat him in 2004, was full of respect for his conqueror.
“The best man won tonight and it’s a massive event for boxing,” Klitschko said.
“Two gentleman fought each other. Anthony was better today. It’s really sad I didn’t make it tonight.”
Meanwhile, Twitter has exploded following Joshua’s incredible victory.
— Ryan 🔴 (@ClassicCantona) April 29, 2017
Fuuuuuuuuuuuck meeeeeeeee! Yes!!!!!!! #JoshuaKlitschko 👊🏼
— Paddy McGuinness (@PaddyMcGuinness) April 29, 2017
Brutal, enthralling drama.
Spare a thought for corner-man Rob McCracken….
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) April 29, 2017