Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko: Four years on from their titanic Wembley clash

The two superstars of heavyweight boxing collided in front of a post-war record of 90,000 fans in England's capital for the WBA and IBF world titles.

The world witnessed one of the best heavyweight fights of the last 25 years between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko in 2017.

Surrounded by all the hype in the build-up, the fight - which had the WBA and IBF titles on the line - lived up to its expectations and more.

With his feet up, smoking a cigar, Sylvester Stallone would have watched it thinking he could make his next Rocky instalment based on the spectacle.

Four years ago, Joshua and Klitschko collided in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium, 10,000 more than Carl Froch's fight against George Groves - sorry, Carl.

Wembley is known as the home of football in England but the national stadium has also been home to some of the biggest British boxing events in recent years.

Wembley got treated to one of the best knockouts in boxing history by Froch in 2014 and now fans were witnessing an all-time classic between two heavyweight titans.

Following an undercard which included the likes of Olympic trio Joe Cordina, Luke Campbell, Katie Taylor and Scott Quigg, it was time for the main event.

Going into the fight, there were plenty of questions.

Did Klitschko have anything left following two years out of the ring since his defeat to Tyson Fury? The other being, was Joshua legit or a hype job?

The challenger - "Dr. Steelhammer" - walked out first as the challenger to the iconic tune 'Can't Stop' by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, sending shivers down the spine of some 90,000 in attendance.

Joshua came out next. Lit with flames in his initials, the Brit strolled out to rendition of songs that included Notorious BIG to receive an electric reception.

Anthony Joshua walking out ahead of his showdown with Wladimir Klitschko
Anthony Joshua walking out ahead of his showdown with Wladimir Klitschko

The opening couple of rounds were a cagey affair for both men, with Joshua looking the busier but nervous fighter while Klitschko appeared more relaxed.

The fight opened up from round four onwards with AJ pressuring the Ukrainian with a flurry of hooks to the head and body.

Round five saw AJ knock Klitschko to the canvas and while he saw out the remainder of the round, the writing was on the wall for boxing's Hall of Famer - or so it seemed.

In round six, an overconfident Joshua walked into a ferocious right hook which left Wembley Stadium silent. You could hear a pin drop.

On steady legs, Joshua was in a heap of trouble but somehow managed to withstand Klitschko's power.

Wladimir Klitschko floored Anthony Joshua in round six of their 2017 heavyweight clash
Wladimir Klitschko floored Anthony Joshua in round six of their 2017 heavyweight clash

During the next couple of rounds, Klitschko was unable to take advantage and pull the trigger, instead opting to use his jab which gave Joshua enough time to recompose himself during the next couple of rounds.

Joshua, 27, displayed the heart of a true champion though, battling through and sending Klitschko to the deck three times before eventually winning in round 11.

His most iconic shot remembered is his viscous right uppercut which nearly took Klitschko's head off.

After the fight, the newly crowned IBO and WBA 'super' champion instantly called out Tyson Fury, saying: 'Fury where are you baby?' with an animated crowd roaring with sheer delight.

Fury responded on Twitter to say, 'challenge accepted.' Four years on, we are still to see the fight although a two-fight deal has been agreed as well as the site fee, according to Eddie Hearn.

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Joshua, at the time, extended his record to 19-0 with all of his wins ending inside the distance.

He would go on to unify the division with a unanimous decision victory against Joseph Parker before picking up wins against Carlos Takam and Alexander Povetkin.

A stunning defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. followed in 2019 at Madison Square Garden before the 2012 Olympic champion avenged a sole defeat in Saudi Arabia later that year.

Since then, Joshua has fought just once due to the pandemic with a return to form against Kubrat Pulev.

Klitschko, on the other hand, admitted on the night of defeat he would not rush a decision on his future in boxing.

Ironically, despite ruling the heavyweight division for a combined total of 4,382 days, his loss to Joshua saw him gain most appreciation he had ever received from fans in England.

The Ukrainian, 41 at the time, had celebrated after knocking Joshua down in round six but there was no fairy-tale ending for Klitschko.

Post-fight, the two-time champion was as gentlemen-like as ever, praising his opponent and insisting he was 'the better man'.

Four years on, and Klitschko is tempted to make a comeback and break George Foreman's record as the oldest heavyweight champion.

Klitschko - inducted into the 2021 International Boxing Hall of Fame - holds the record for most unified defences as heavyweight champion and defeated the most challengers - 23 - one more than the great Joe Louis.

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