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21 AUGUST 2017

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Joshua stops Klitschko at Wembley




By Steven Bateson: Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko, in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, in the eleventh round of one of the best heavyweight fights of recent memory. Joshua was forced to climb off the canvass in the sixth round and survive the sternest test of his career, thus far, to retain his IBF Championship whilst adding the WBA bauble to his collection.

 

In a fight that not only lived up to the hype but blew it out of the water both men went toe to toe and produced a bout that should never be forgotten.

 

It was a tentative opening, both men respectful of the other’s power, and the only real punch of note came from a straight right hand from Klitschko in round two. It caught life in round number five when Joshua dropped Klitschko with a right hand. Wladimir tried to hold on but dropped to his knees and looked very hurt, a cut opened up across his eye. He managed to beat the count and not only managed to weather AJ’s onslaught, as the round reached its conclusion, but he took control as Joshua’s energy was drained, the Briton looked out on his feet.

 

If you thought the fight was over then you don’t respect the hall of famer that is Wladimir Klitschko. Dr Steel Hammer not only came back firing but he dropped Joshua in round six with a trademark left jab and straight right hand that has been the mainstay of his career. Joshua was in desperate trouble and it seemed only a matter of time before his perfect record came crumbling down.

 

For the next three rounds Joshua threw very few punches and seemed more concerned with getting his legs back under him, conserving his energy for one more assault that may turn the tide in his favour. In time, we may look back and say Klitschko should have finished the job but the fact is that he didn’t and allowed AJ the opportunity to come back and stake his claim as the #1 Heavyweight in the world.

 

Klitschko was working behind his jab and applying his veteran tactics, holding and leaning on, but Joshua drew strength from his hometown crowd and in the eleventh round he closed the show.

 

He caught Wladimir in the centre of the ring with a straight right hand, missed with a left, and then detonated a destructive uppercut that almost separated the Ukrainian’s head from his shoulders. Klitschko was all at sea, his legs that had kept him bobbing all night finally abandoning him, and a left hook from AJ put him on the deck. Klitschko, like the legend he is, rose defiantly but was soon felled again as Joshua backed him onto the ropes with a barrage, a right/left combo the final blows. The crowd rose, sensing the end, and Joshua gave into their blood thirst as he trapped Klitschko on the ropes and forced the referee to call a halt, the first time Wlad has been stopped in thirteen years.

 

It was a terrific advert for boxing, both men conducted themselves with such class before and after, and it was certainly the coming of age for Anthony Joshua. Joshua answered the critics that claimed he didn’t have the chin or stamina to go the distance whilst Wladimir proved age is nothing but a number as he turned back the clock and dispelled his previous performance against Tyson Fury in 2015, he truly is an all time great with the heart of a lion. These are the nights us boxing fans live for and with Anthony Joshua at the forefront of the blue ribbon division we could go from strength to strength.

 

A couple of questions to consider at the end of the evening: Does Wladimir Klitschko have any more fights in him? Will they re-match? Will Joshua and Deontay Wilder meet by the end of the year and who would be victorious? Where does Tyson Fury fit into this picture? Does Tony Bellew have a role to play, and is everyone overlooking the WBO Champion Joseph Parker?

 

 

Scott Quigg edged out Romania’s Viorel Simion on points in a terrific fight of the year contender, billed as an IBF Featherweight Eliminator. Neither man was willing to take a backward step and engaged in a tear-up that looked as though it were taking place in a phone booth. Quigg, the bigger and younger man, refused to use his jab and instead chose to match Simion at his own game, trading monstrous hooks and body shots. Simion, only defeated once before tonight, stunned Quigg with big hooks in the opening rounds and made the Bury fighter miss with his erratic work. Quigg, now trained out of the WildCard by Freddie Roach, settled into his work in round five but still could not put a dent in his incredibly determined opponent. Simion began to look a little ragged and tired as the fight progressed, slowed by Quigg’s trademark body work, but spirit willed him to keep on his toes and answer each of Quigg’s assaults despite dropping off in his workrate. Quigg had pulled away on my scorecard by round nine and left Simion in need of a knockout that was never likely to come, given his small knockout ratio. I counted four or five times where I believed Simion was out on his feet but each time he fired back and let Quigg know he was still there, the warrior deserves massive credit for his part in this brilliant scrap. This was boxing at its finest, the Wembley crowd did not give it the respect it deserved in the slightest, but Quigg will need a different approach against any of the top 126lb’er because he cannot take that amount of punishment from known punchers. Quigg is now in line to face IBF king, Lee Selby (the only man to have beaten Simion before this) and Selby will believe he has the beating of the Englishman, although I think opinions will divided.

Scorecards read: 117-111 x 2, 115-113

On a personal note, if you can catch a replay of this fight then please do because it is terrific.

 

Luke Campbell defeated Darleys Perez via ninth round stoppage in a WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator. Campbell started sluggishly and was guilty of rushing his jab, allowing Perez to build a lead, but as the fight progressed the Olympic gold medalist seized control. Perez worked to the body and scored with several overhand loopers in the first three stanzas but Campbell began to sap his opponent’s energy and confidence from round four. A left hand to the temple briefly took Perez’ legs in that round and although he had brief moments of success he was second best from there on out. The former world champion smiled and taunted Campbell whilst eating jabs and combinations in round seven, but the bravado was fooling nobody. Campbell rocked Perez again in round eight with a looping left hook and then a right/left combo, the Colombian just could not move through the gears that his foe could. Perez looked a beaten man and complained of an arm injury in round nine that led to him withdrawing himself from the bout. WBA beltholder, Jorge Linares, was ringside and whilst he may have been impressed in aspects of his potential future opponent’s work, he will have spotted many deficiencies that he can exploit should he and Campbell meet. It was a good performance from Campbell, in the main, and he has come a long way since that loss to Yvan Mendy in 2015 but I believe he still needs a couple of fringe level world operators before he goes deep with the elite.

 

 

Katie Taylor took yet another step closer to taking over the professional ranks, dispatching Nina Meinke in seven rounds of a WBA Lightweight Eliminator. Taylor was completely dominant from start to finish, I have raved over her skills so many times before, and it will not be long until a world strap is around her waist. Meinke, undefeated before this bout, was game and came to win but she just could not handle the precision combination punching of Taylor. Taylor forced her opponent to compete at her pace, which is phenomenal, and her accuracy reddened Meinke’s face from the second round onwards. A bad clash of heads in round 5 opened up a terrible cut over Meinke’s eye and prompted Howard Foster to end proceedings after two more rounds of one sided action. Taylor is a joy to watch and also a great ambassador for the sport, she seems to get better and better with each performance and it is hard to imagine anyone being able to compete with her. Uruguay’s Cecilia Comunales holds the WBA Title and will be on the radar of the five time world amateur champion, something she should be extremely wary of.

 

 

Welshman, Joe Cordina secured his second win in a week by stopping Sergej Vib in the very first round. Cordina, who made his debut on the Murray-Rosado card last week, opened proceedings at Wembley and made short work of his Russian born opponent. Vib looked out of his depth from the start and was peppered by Cordina’s jab as he attempted to back away to safety. A glancing left hand to the temple dropped Vib and although he got back up it wasn’t long before a body and head barrage had him down again, prompting the referee to count him out. Cordina looked impressive in combos but was a little overeager and caught by unnecessary overhand right hands that he cannot afford as he climbs the ladder.




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