Boxing legends hails Joshua for victory over Klitschko

But Klitschko, boxing for the first time since losing all those titles and the WBO prize in an upset defeat to Tyson Fury 18 months ago, fired back sensationally to leave Joshua hanging on as the session closed.

It was his 19th consecutive victory as well as his 19th straight knockout win.

"How he's going to develop, we'll see".

The fight seemed as though it might be over right then.

Klitschko was bidding to become a three-time world heavyweight champion like his older brother, Vitali, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Muhammad Ali.

The action was breathtaking with the Ukrainian surviving a knockdown in the fifth, coming back strongly in that round and then scoring his own knockdown in the sixth.

Joshua, who remains a ideal 19-0 with 19 knockouts, overcame the first knockdown of his career to successfully defend his IBF belt and pick up the vacant WBA title.

He bravely got up once more but referee David Fields waved it off soon after as he was unable to defend himself against a barrage of Joshua blows on the ropes.

It's at heavyweight where one glancing blow can end it all and it's that sort of high-stakes drama that saw "Iron" Mike Tyson dominate the pay-per-view market for so many years between the late 1990s and early 2000s.

"It's more likely to be at [the Principality Stadium] if it's in the United Kingdom, or it might take us to a new territory. So a massive shout out to Wladimir Klitschko", he said.

However, despite also revealing the exhaustion he had to overcome to win such a defining and entertaining fight, he insisted it did not represent his peak.

"The experience I've gained is more important than the belts".

WBC champion Deontay Wilder was ringside on Saturday night and the American said he would relish a unification fight with Joshua.

The Ukrainian had also been sent crashing to the floor in the fifth round as the 27-year-old British fighter took his ideal record to 19 stoppage wins in 19 fights. Joshua said. "Come on - that's what they want to see".

Joshua called out Tyson Fury after his sensational stoppage of Klitschko in front of 90,000 people.

Maybe too much of a spotlight has been shone recently on the need for the powerful to confirm their status by discussing it ad nauseam.

"The baddest man on the planet - with all the titles and one face".

But Joshua proved that, while it might be helpful, it's by no means the sine qua non of a successful prizefight. "He got up, he fought back and he won the titles".

"Antony Joshua is Messi and Ronaldo combine in boxing".

His knockout power is unquestioned, and after Saturday night so is his heart.

  • Zachary Reyes