Joshua vs Kiltschko – The fight that finally delivered!
By Ryan Allan: Rarely in life does the point of execution surpass the moment of expectation. The prospect of something spectacular can so often become something so instantly forgettable. Hype, hyperbole and hubris are the common staples of the 21st century diet, so overused so overplayed that it becomes nigh on impossible to distinguish genuine importance from genuinely good marketing and so when Anthony Joshua stepped into the ring this past Saturday in front of 90000 supporters at a packed Wembley stadium, a crescendo of expectation and anticipation was weighing more heavily on his relatively inexperienced shoulders than any other fighter in British boxing history.
Indeed, such was the expectation on Joshua that this, an 18 fight rookie who had never gone past the 7th round in any of his previous contests, went into a world title fight against the former unified champion, with 3 world titles on the line as the heavy betting favourite. There is pressure, and there is pressure. This truly was something off the stratosphere but boy did the boy from London deliver.
For boxing, the heavyweight division has always been the blue riband event with which so much of the sports integrity and marketability relies upon. With the Klitschko brothers dominating for more than a decade, and no American heavyweights to match the achievements of an Ali, Tyson or Holyfield on the horizon, the division had become stagnant with few if any genuinely memorable world title bouts occurring in the last 15 years and while it was Tyson Fury that ultimately ended the reign of WK, it was in this event at Wembley that the division finally exploded back into life after its long sabbatical in the sporting wilderness.
11 rounds of back and forth action delivered the kind of fight few could have dreamed of. Both men down in the 5th and 6th rounds. Both men trading shots like there was no tomorrow. Both men pouring everything into delivering one of the most exciting and memorable heavyweight contests of this or any other decade. Both men delivered. One man won the fight, but neither lost the event.
While so much of the credit, and the subsequent discussions going forward centre solely around the the sports new golden boy, so much respect has to be afforded to the vanquished Klitschko who showed more in defeat than he had done in so many of his mundane victories as champion. His ability to stand and trade devastating blows with Joshua, a man with 14 years less on his own calendar, was simply stunning. Rarely in the history of the sport has any man over the age of 40 produced such an impressive display and yet, even as the former champion produced a career defining fight, he was still to end up with a 5th L on his record and that itself tells the story of a truly remarkable fight that somehow lived up to the enormous expectations afforded to a boxing match that has 90000 spectators.
For Joshua, the future is beyond bright. A rematch with Wladimir remains a possibility but for now, a domestic dust down with Tyson Fury has to be his priority. The good guy vs the bad guy. Batman vs the Joker.
Of course, the narrative for that showdown is now being written and while the hype for that event is sure to go even further, it is surely doubtful that the event itself could ever match the drama that we witnessed at Wembley this past Saturday.
This truly was heavyweight boxing at its finest; The passing of the torch, the changing of the guard, the young lion emerging from the jungle, scrapping and fighting his way to the triple crown in front of a truly captivated and exhilarated audience. This was an event that truly did boxing proud and for once, just once, the hype had proven to be justified.
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