It was all out war at Wembley Stadium in a contest many will see as the greatest fight of the century.
For the first time in his professional career, Anthony Joshua looked in serious trouble.
Wladimir Klitschko, one of the all-time greats of the heavyweight division, hit the 28-year-old Brit with a hard right hook that had him fall on his backside during the sixth round of their epic clash at Wembley Stadium.
It was the first time since turning pro that Joshua had been put on the canvas. One round prior to that he had put the Ukrainian on the floor with a flurry of blows, but that seemed to use up all of his energy and now needed to try and survive until the bell.
Like true champions both rose back to their feet and battled on. Here we had two gladiators full of mutual respect for each other giving it everything they got.
The fight, which had as many twists and turns in it as one we’d expect to see in a Rocky film, lived up to the expectations fans, critics and fellow boxers had all expressed in the build-up.
With Klitschko looking to have established control as the contest entered its final few rounds, Joshua unleashed an uppercut from hell – a blow that almost ripped the 40-year-old’s head off his body – which left the legend vulnerable.
Joshua sensed his opportunity used everything he had left in his arsenal to not only fall the Ukrainian once but twice in the eleventh round, before American referee David Fields rightfully stopped the fight.
There were a record 90,000 people in attendance inside Wembley Stadium that night, with the fight was broadcast in over 140 countries. This victory not only furthered Joshua’s heroic status in the UK, but it also won him many admirers abroad.
The Brit then defended his belts last month in Cardiff with a a less than convincing TKO win over Carlos Takam. Still undefeated, the 28-year-old’s record now reads 20 fights, 20 wins and 20 stoppages.
So what next for Joshua in 2018? He holds two of the four heavyweight belts after defeating Klitschko (The WBA and IBF belts), and now looks like he wants to challenge one of the other two title-holders in another unification tussle.
New Zealand’s Joseph Parker looks the more likely to be Joshua’s next opponent early next year. The WBO champion has recently moved to the UK to try and raise his profile in the country, and according to his agents he has a more realistic deal in place should the fight go ahead.
However the fight everyone wants to see is Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion.
The American is just as big, just as strong and just as confident as the Brit and he hasn’t been afraid to hold back and call for Joshua’s agent Eddie Hearn to make it happen whilst both are at the top of their game.
Then there is the returning Tyson Fury to also watch out for. Having been the one to initially defeat Klitschko in Germany and end his reign as king of the heavyweights two years ago, Fury has not fought since due to a drugs ban and had his belts stripped from him.
But now he looks destined to return to the ring in 2018, and he wants his belts back with a vengeance.
The two British fighters have had a war of words on social media in the past and could now be about to put their fists where their mouths are. However I personally wouldn’t expect that fight to happen until 2019.
Looking down the line, if Joshua were to win both unification fights and then go on to defeat Fury, his name would not only be forged in boxing greatness forever, but he would become arguably the best British boxer of all-time.