LONDON: Britain’s Anthony Joshua defeated veteran Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in a world heavyweight title fight epic in front of 90,000 people at Wembley on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), taking victory on an 11th round stoppage.
Joshua added the WBA title to his IBF belt but only after being knocked to the canvas by the 41-year-old Klitschko in the sixth round.
The Ukrainian was also sent crashing to the floor in the fifth round and twice more in the pivotal 11th as the 27-year-old British fighter took his record to 19 wins in 19 fights.
“What can I say? 19-0, three and a half years in the game. As I said, I’m not perfect but I’m trying and if you don’t take part you’re going to fail,” said Joshua who was put on the canvas for the first time in his career.
“As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and you respect your opponent. So a massive shout out to Wladimir Klitschko.”
A third defense of his IBF world heavyweight title also earned Joshua the vacant WBA belt as he became the first British heavyweight since Lennox Lewis in 2002 to hold two versions of the world title.
It was Klitschko’s first stoppage defeat since Lamon Brewster beat him in 2004 and leaves his record at 64 wins and five defeats.
“The best man won tonight and it’s a massive event for boxing,” Klitschko told Sky Sports.
“Two gentleman fought each other. Anthony was better today. It’s really sad I didn’t make it tonight.”
Klitschko was trying to reclaim two of the three belts he lost to Joshua’s fellow Briton Tyson Fury by an upset on points in November 2015.
The Ukrainian had not fought since then after Fury twice pulled out of rematches and entered the ring as the underdog.
It was Joshua, after 18 straight knockouts as a professional, who was the 1/2 betting favorite and he smiled as he walked to the ring in front of Britain’s largest boxing attendance since 1939.