Wladimir Klitschko was as close as one punch away from beating Anthony Joshua in Saturday's world heavyweight title showdown, his manager has claimed.
Both men had to climb off the canvas in an 11-round epic in front of 90,000 at Wembley, but Joshua had the lasting power to pummel Klitschko late on and add the WBA title and less revered IBO belt to his IBF crown.
Klitschko recovered from tasting canvas in the fifth to send Joshua to a first career knockdown a round later, although the Ukrainian veteran could not capitalize and the Brit was able to recover ahead of his late onslaught.
Though retirement may loom for the 41-year-old Klitschko, he referenced a rematch clause after the fight and Bernd Bonte believes his man was not far away from regaining three of the prizes he lost to Tyson Fury in November 2015.
Really enjoyed the fight, I hope you did too. Thank you for your amazing support. I can truly feel it. Respect&congrats to @anthonyfjoshua— Klitschko (@Klitschko) April 30, 2017
"It was a great fight from both sides," Bonte said.
"For sure people are going to call it an instant classic when you review the fight in a couple of years and even already now.
"It was certainly one of the best heavyweight fights of the last 10-15 years.
"Wladimir almost had him in the sixth round. One or maybe two more punches would have been enough and the fight would have been decided in his favour.
"But, OK, Joshua showed that he can come back, as did Wladimir before. In the end you have to congratulate Joshua."