It certainly seems remarkable that exactly three years ago to this day Sky Sports boxing commentator Adam Smith uttered those famous words at Wembley Stadium:
“The fight has been stopped, lift-off for AJ, a new chapter, a new era in this most glamorous division on the biggest stage.”
Indeed, it was an electric night at Wembley Stadium in front of 90,000 fans in a fight billed as the new kid on the block versus the legendary old-timer.
Coming into this fight Anthony Joshua had never gone the 12 round distance and had claimed 18 knockouts in his 18 fights.
Wladimir Klitschko meanwhile had suffered his first loss in 10 years against another British fighter in Tyson Fury on points in Germany.
Subsequently, both boxers had questions to answer, has this fight come too early for AJ? Does Klitschko still have what it takes?
This encounter certainly had the potential to be a classic and it did not disappoint. Dr.Steelhammer certainly pushed the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medallist to the limit.
The first big moment of the fight came in the fifth round when Joshua knocked down his Ukrainian adversary with a flurry of punches.
Roared on by home support, AJ clearly sensed he had his man exactly where he wanted him.
Klitschko, however, thought otherwise and showed that he still had the resolve that made him the most dominant heavyweight of the 21st century by responding with a thunderous overhand right that knocked down Joshua in the sixth.
Joshua was able to answer the count but now he was in uncharted territory having never previously been beyond the seventh round in a professional bout.
Following the sixth round, Smith said:
“An astonishing round in this fight for the ages.”
The pace understandably dropped and just as if this fight looked to be drifting to a judge’s scorecard decision, Joshua found a formidable uppercut before securing the stoppage in the eleventh to seal a career-defining victory.
Sky Sports Boxing Pundit Johnny Nelson said after AJ secured the stoppage:
“That fight changed him as a fighter without a doubt because he learned he was as good as he thought he was.
“It uplifted him. He would have felt like 10 men.”
Klitschko eventually decided to retire in the months following his loss to AJ but he can certainly take comfort in the fact that his career finished in memorable fashion and this encounter was justifiably voted as the Ring Magazine and ESPN Fight of the Year for 2017.
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