Fury vs Whyte: Past boxing events at Wembley including Joshua vs Klitschko and Froch vs Groves

Before 94,000 fans pack into Wembley for Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte, here’s a look at previous boxing events at Wembley Stadium.

Jack Bloomfield vs Tommy Gibbons (August 1924)

Just short of 98 years ago, the first-ever boxing event at Wembley Stadium (called the Empire Stadium at the time) took place. This was 16 months after the famous stadium opened in April 1923.

50,000 attended the fight which pitted former British champion, Bloomfield, against Minnesota-born Gibbons. The latter unsuccessfully challenged the great Jack Dempsey for the world heavyweight title in 1923.

At the time of the fight, Gibbons was eleven years older than the Brit and he had also fought more than twice as many times.

The rivals met at light heavyweight in a non-title contest. Gibbons came out on top in the third round.

Bloomfield was downed twice in the second before he was stopped in front of his home crowd in the third. He would never fight again, while Gibbons continued before retiring in 1925.

The event was deemed a failure as its promoter, Major Arnold Wilson, filed for bankruptcy in the immediate aftermath.

Jack Petersen vs Walter Neusel (February and June 1935)

Given the failings of the first boxing event at Wembley, it comes as no surprise that there was a gap of eleven years until boxing returned to the stadium.

Two-time British heavyweight champion Petersen had built up a good reputation in the lead up to his first fight at Wembley in February 1935.

The 23-year-old had just one loss in over 30 professional bouts. He stepped in with Neusel, who had won titles at heavyweight in Germany.

Home hero Petersen was favoured going into the fight, but he was stopped in the 11th round.

The rivals battled in a rematch four months later, which Neusel won again via stoppage after ten rounds.

In his retirement bout in 1937, Petersen fought Neusel for a third time at the old Harringay Arena in North London. The German triumphed again, getting Petersen out of there in ten rounds.

Henry Cooper vs Cassius Clay (June 1963)

Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali

18 years after the end of World War II, boxing was back at Wembley. The occasion needed such a venue, as Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) boxed for the first time on British soil.

Clay battled Sir Henry Cooper, a respected British fighter who had previously held the European, Commonwealth and British heavyweight titles.

Despite Cooper's strong reputation, Clay was the favourite. Unbeaten from his 18 pro bouts, he was considered a shoe-in to become a world champion.

Cooper was a major underdog but he caused Clay a lot of problems. The latter suffered a knockdown in the fourth and he was visibly hurt.

It is alleged that Clay's trainer - Angelo Dundee - used smelling salts (an illegal substance) in the corner to help his fighter recover before the fourth.

Whether he did or not, Clay bounced back in the fifth. Cooper suffered a severe cut above his eye as Clay landed several heavy right hands. This led to Cooper's corner throwing in the towel before the end of the round.

Clay became world heavyweight in his next fight, beating Sonny Liston to do so.

He later rematched Cooper at Highbury Stadium (Arsenal's old football stadium) in 1966. A cut impacted Cooper once again, as he was stopped in the sixth round.

Oliver McCall vs Frank Bruno (September 1995)

The last boxing event at the old Wembley was headlined by McCall and Bruno. The latter was challenging for the world heavyweight title for the fourth time.

The Chicago-based McCall won the WBC world title in 1994 by stopping Lennox Lewis inside two rounds. After successfully defending his title against Larry Holmes at Caesars Palace, he made his second defence against Bruno.

There was a stacked undercard at Wembley. Before the main event, Nigel Benn and Virgil Hill retained their world titles against Daniel Perez and Drake Thadzi respectively.

In the main event, Bruno boxed well as he was easily ahead on points. McCall desperately looked for the knockout late on and he hurt the Brit in the penultimate round.

Bruno survived though, winning via unanimous decision to become Britain's third world heavyweight champion after Bob Fitzsimmons and Lewis.

Aged 34, Bruno lost his title in his first defence. He was stopped inside three rounds by Mike Tyson at the MGM Grand in March 1996. This was Bruno's second defeat to 'Iron Mike' and he retired shortly after.

Carl Froch vs George Groves II (May 2014)

Carl Froch and George Groves

The Froch-Groves rivalry is looked back upon very fondly. Genuine hatred between opponents is rare in the modern-day, but there was that between these rivals.

They first fought at Manchester Arena in November 2013. Groves was Froch's IBF mandatory and the challenger was the heavy underdog.

To the shock of many, the durable Froch was dropped in the first and was in big trouble. Groves was ahead on the cards throughout the fight but he was stopped in the ninth.

This came in dubious circumstances as it is now accepted that Howard Foster called time on the contest too early. A rematch was inevitable and it took place at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000, as Froch likes to remind people.

The animosity between the pair was evident in the build-up to their second bout. Given the controversial finish to their first meeting, this was to be expected.

Seven years after the stadium reopened, there was no all-British feud more suited to pack out the venue.

Froch took Groves more seriously in the rematch and he performed much better.

'The Cobra' produced a career-best knockout to stop Groves in the eighth round.

The champion retired thereafter and what a perfect way it was to go out.

Groves recovered from this major setback, becoming a world champion in 2017 before retiring following his loss to Callum Smith.

Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko (April 2017)

Anthony Joshua

Considering his star power, it was only a matter of time before Joshua headlined at Wembley Stadium.

His moment came as he fought former undisputed world champion Klitschko. The Brit was making the third defence of his IBF world title and he was looking to add the vacant WBA (Super) and IBO titles to his collection.

The titles were vacated by Fury amid his struggles with depression and alcohol/substance abuse.

'The Gypsy King' was due to defend his newly-won belts against Klitschko in a rematch, but that bout fell by the wayside.

The Ukrainian would instead face Joshua in an attempt to reclaim most of his belts. This was comfortably the toughest test of Joshua's career, even with Klitschko being past his peak.

The danger Klitschko possessed was shown as he recovered from being floored to drop Joshua during a chaotic sixth round.

Both fighters were hurt but the younger Joshua recovered quicker to lay in more punishment in the latter rounds.

'Dr. Steelhammer' was down a couple of times in the eleventh before the referee stopped the bout with the challenger absorbing too much damage on the ropes.

The fight was a real thriller and a rematch was talked about, though Klitschko opted to retire instead. As for Joshua, his journey since this win has been dramatic to say the very least…

Anthony Joshua vs Alexander Povetkin (September 2018)

After defeating Klitschko, Joshua followed that up by beating Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker convincingly in back-to-back fights at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

AJ then returned to Wembley in his 22nd pro fight as he battled his WBA mandatory challenger, Povetkin. The Brit was discussing a defence against Deontay Wilder at the time, but that is a fight fans are still being made to wait for.

While everyone wanted Wilder, Povetkin was still considered to be more than a credible challenger.

You only have to look at his knockout of Whyte at Fight Camp to understand how troublesome the Russian can be.

A huge 80,000 flocked to Wembley to watch Joshua's latest defence. Povetkin started well as he had early success before the champion grew into the fight.

With the challenger slowing down, Joshua dropped him in the seventh via a flush left-right combination.

Povetkin returned to his feet but the bout was called off shortly after with Joshua continuing to land big shots.

Since this win, Joshua has fought four times and has suffered two defeats. The first came in shocking fashion against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.

Joshua avenged that loss, but after beating Kubrat Pulev, he was convincingly beaten on points by Oleksandr Usyk at the end of 2021.

Having got his revenge for one loss, it is yet to be seen if AJ can do it again. The Usyk rematch will take place this summer, with the winner likely set to eye a mouth-watering clash against the victor of Fury-Whyte.

Read more: 'John Fury needs to relax he's about 600 years old', says Dillian Whyte

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