Six years ago today – on April 29, 2017 – Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko delivered what is probably the best fight in recent heavyweight history. For Klitschko, the duel with his heir to the throne, who was 14 years his junior, was the last hurrah in the ring – and what a thing.
Despite his defeat, 90,000 Brits celebrated him euphorically. One very special round of the legendary exchange of blows is particularly memorable:
It was a round for the history books, this 5th act of the epic generational duel between doyen Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua.
Struck down by bad blows from the then 27-year-old and bleeding from a deep laceration above his left eye, Klitschko fought like a wounded lion – an alpha animal about to lose his territory to a young rival.
With left hooks and right missiles, Klitschko resolutely wedged back in front of 90,000 euphoric Englishmen. Not only did he show Joshua, who was almost bursting with strength and self-confidence, his unshakeable will to fight – he showed “the heart of a true champion”, as boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. recognized.
Newly discovered uppercut
Klitschko not only survived the fist thunderstorm of the Briton. When ‘AJ’ exhausted himself with his destructive vibrators, ‘Dr. Steelhammer’ command.
First with his legendary left hook, then with a huge uppercut – which Klitschko had always missed in all the past years – the 41-year-old veteran turned the tide. Suddenly Joshua was hanging on the ropes.
So the Briton, who just looked like the sure winner, was lucky when the bell rang the end of the round. “A classic of heavyweight history,” exclaimed boxing historian Max Kellerman, who was sitting on the rope for the US colleagues from “HBO”.
As Holyfield and Bowe once did
Three minutes full of punches, in which a fighter who seems already beaten rises from the ring dust and forces his tormentor himself into the depths of boxing hell: Such dramaturgy was last seen in November 1992, when Riddick Bowe’s was only so through the Ring beat Evander Holyfield regained control of his legs and brought ‘Big Daddy’ to the brink of defeat with an insanely energetic display late in the 10th round.
The round is now considered one of the best and most spectacular in heavyweight history. She has had company there since April 29 from Wembley.
What happened in London after the 5th fist is well known: Although Klitschko sent Joshua, who was no less self-sacrificingly fighting, onto the boards in the following round with a crashing right hand, he was denied triumph in the away game.
Ironically, however, the longtime regent of the premier class cemented his place as one of the all-time greats of heavyweight boxing with what was perhaps his most bitter defeat. Thanks to a great performance, an indomitable fighter heart – and an already legendary round.