Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in round 11 of one of the best heavyweight fights in ages in front of a record crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium.
IBF world champion Joshua looked to have the edge in the first four rounds before scoring a knockdown in the fifth which brought the entire stadium to its feet.
Klitschko actually finished the round strong enough to potentially cancel out the 10-8 score a knockdown usually brings, before dropping the champ himself in the sixth – the first time Joshua had been put on the canvas.
It was gut check time for AJ for a few rounds as Wlad looked calm and in control, as if it was one of his many successful defences during his decade-long reign ended by Tyson Fury in 2015.
But Joshua was able to stop the rot as the fight reached rounds he had never before experienced, and in the penultimate of the 12-round championship contest he unleashed a brutal ‘Hail Mary’ of an uppercut which led to ‘Dr. Steelhammer’ tasting the mat again.
This time, Joshua’s second wind was enough to stay on top of the tiring Klitschko and another knockdown followed before the referee pulled the triumphant Anthony off his beaten opponent to a deafening response from the Wembley crowd.
The win brings Joshua’s perfect record to 19-0 with 19 knockout victories, and adds the WBA title to his IBF crown. A full unification of the division will surely be AJ’s next goal, though he said in his post-match interview that he would love to give Tyson Fury the chance to regain the belts he never lost in the ring.
Co-promoter Eddie Hearn confidently predicted a prompt 22:00 start for the much-anticipated main event, and a breezy undercard loaded with fellow former Olympians but very low on marquee support ensured it was a safe prediction.
British Rio 2016 representative Joe Cordina won a drawing of lots to have his bout open the Sky Box Office card, with his compadres from Brazil Lawrence Okolie and Josh Kelly designated as floating contests (to be slotted in whenever the main card was ahead of schedule) which were ultimately scrapped from the card. Cordina went 2-0 as a professional, requiring just two minutes to finish off Germany’s Sergej Vib.
Katie Taylor’s fifth professional bout was much different to the four more dominant washouts preceding it, in front of electric crowds at more intimate venues. Wembley was very much half-empty and relatively-tame for her hard-fought win over Nina Meinke after nearly seven rounds – a big cut above the German’s eye forced the referee to call a halt to the fight.
The win means the Irish star’s next bout should be for a world championship, which Taylor will hope to add to her many amateur accolades.
Luke Campbell endured a rough start to his WBA lightweight title eliminator against Darleys Perez, arguably losing all of the first three rounds before finding his range and gradually breaking the Colombian down for a ninth-round stoppage.
Hull hero Campbell will now hope to do what compatriot Anthony Crolla failed to achieve in two attempts – dethrone impressive titlist Jorge Linares.
In the chief support contest, Scott Quigg put himself next in line for the IBF featherweight strap with an aggressive but flawed showing against Viorel Simion. The nature of his maiden victory under new trainer Freddie Roach didn’t have current champ, Wales’ Lee Selby, quaking in his boots judging by his comments during the Englishman’s 12-round decision win on social media.