Anthony Joshua TKOs Wladimir Klitschko in 11th round in scintillating heavyweight bout – Yahoo Sports

Anthony Joshua stamped himself as a true boxing great Satuday with a commanding performance in an 11th-round technical knockout of ex-champion Wladimir Klitschko in front of an insane scene at Wembley Stadium in London, where a record crowd of 90,000 roared its approval from beginning to end.

Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) retained his IBF heavyweight title and added the WBA belt in arguably the most compelling heavyweight title fight since Evander Holyfield upset Mike Tyson in 1996 in Las Vegas.

Both men were down, and nearly out, in the middle of the fight. Joshua dropped Klitschko in the fifth, and went for the finish. He didn’t get it as the 41-year-old Klitschko, defying his many critics who questioned his heart, fought back fiercely.

By the end of the fifth, Klitschko had recovered and Joshua was in trouble. But it was nothing compared to what came in the sixth, when Klitschko put Joshua down and turned the fight’s momentum his way.

Joshua showed the poise and grit of a champion by composing himself and coming back. He dropped Klitschko twice in the 11th and referee David Fields jumped in to stop it at 2:25 of the 11th.

Judges Don Trella (96-93) and Nelson Vazquez (95-93) favored Joshua at the time of the stoppage. Judge Steve Weisfeld had Klitschko 95-93. Yahoo Sports scored it 96-93 for Joshua.

“I’m not perfect, but I’m trying,” Joshua shouted to the cheering throng shortly after the fight ended.

It was a bout in which there was no loser. It showed promoters that when they make the right fights and promote them well, as Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn did, fans will support it.

Klitschko suffered the defeat, but he only enhanced his image. For years, despite more than a decade of dominance, Klitschko was battered by fans and boxing media like a piñata, taking abuse for everything short of the fall of the Roman Empire.

He was tenacious and determined and showed the skills that made him the best heavyweight post-Lennox Lewis. And when it would have been easy to succumb and blame it on age, he got up, gritted his teeth and fought his way back into the fight.

“I’m really sad I didn’t make it tonight,” Klitschko said. “I was planning to do it. It didn’t work. But all the respect to Anthony. Congratulations. Love and respect to you guys: 90,000 people. You’re awesome guys!”

There are now a slew of big fights for Joshua that will pay him mega-money. He was guaranteed $20 million Saturday and can top that with a rematch.

A bout with fellow Briton Tyson Fury, who defeated Klitschko in 2015, would be huge, as would a unification bout with unbeaten power-punching American WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

Joshua boxed well and showed the power that had led him to 18 knockouts in his first 18 fights. He wasn’t known for nuance, but showed he could box technically, and he proved he has a champion’s heart with the way he fought back.

“This is boxing, and I’m only going to improve,” Joshua said. “Sometimes, you can be a phenomenal boxer, but boxing is about character. When you go to the trenches, that’s when you found out who you really are. In this sport, when we’re in here, there’s nowhere to hide. As I’ve said from the get-go, it will be a boxing classic and the best man will win.

“That’s what it is. There are no complications about boxing. Anyone can do this. Anyone can do it. Just give it a go.”

Few could do it as well as either Joshua or Klitschko, however. They put on a fight for the ages in one of the best scenes in modern boxing history.

Everything lived up to — and surpassed — its billing. It had drama, ebb-and-flow, amazing performances and a crowd that can’t be beat.

This is what boxing looks like when it’s at its best. Of course, it’s not going to reach that level too often, but the response both in the arena and on social media should be a wakeup call to promoters who have been protecting their stars and sucking the life out of the sport.

Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko injected life into what had been a moribund division on Saturday. But with a potential rematch and opponents like Fury, Wilder and WBO champion Joseph Parker out there, maybe it won’t be two decades before there is another great heavyweight match.

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