News May 2017

McCarthy to meet Perez in Belfast

25.05.2017

Tommy McCarthy and Mike Perez will meet in a crunch Cruiserweight clash at the SSE Arena Belfast on June 10, live on Sky Sports.

It’s a must-win night for both men as McCarthy is looking to bounce back from missing out on the mandatory spot for the British title when he faced Matty Askin in November. Askin fights for the vacant title this weekend and Belfast man McCarthy will be desperate to land a big win to get back in the frame to fight for the Lord Lonsdale belt later in the year.

Perez has made the move down to Cruiserweight to reignite his career as the talented Cuban-born Cork-based banger returns to action – with today marking two years to the day since his last contest, a WBC World Heavyweight title eliminator against Alexander Povetkin in Russia.

“I'm shocked this fight is up and running but its great news for fight fans,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Mick Conlan tweeted me and asked that Tommy be on the card and at the same time I had a request from Mike Perez to be on the show.

“I contacted both teams and they instantly accepted the fight. It's a career defining clash for both. Lose and it's all over - win and it kick-starts a whole new career at championship-level. It's going to be a big night of boxing on June 10 in Belfast.”

McCarthy and Perez clash on a huge night of boxing in Belfast as unbeaten local talent Ryan Burnett challenges IBF World Bantamweight champion Lee Haskins.

An exciting undercard features Ian Tims vs. Luke Watkins for the Irish Cruiserweight title and local favourites James Tennyson, Paul Hyland Jnr, Paddy Gallagher, Matthew Wilton, Feargal McCrory and Tyrone McCullagh.

Tickets are on general sale at midday today priced at £30, £40, £60 and £100 from the SSE Arena Belfast at http://www.ssearenabelfast.com/belfast-boy-burnett-v-haskins

VIP tickets priced at £150 are exclusively available from http://www.matchroomboxing.com/

Face value tickets for June 10 are also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.

Groves : This is my best chance to become a world champion

2.05.2017


George Groves believes the time is right for him to be crowned World Champion when he meets Fedor Chudinov on Saturday, May 27 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

The Hammersmith man will be challenging for the vacant WBA World Super Middleweight Championship in his fourth World title attempt following two epic clashes with domestic rival Carl Froch and a split decision loss to Badou Jack.

Since linking up with coach Shane McGuigan, the 29 year-old has secured four successive victories to pave the way for his latest World title tilt, and the ‘Saint’ says now he is ready to realise his ultimate ambition and capture the WBA belt.

“My training has gone well and I feel really sharp,” said Groves. “I don’t feel rushed or like I’ve had to sacrifice anything, and come Saturday night, I’ll be firing on all cylinders.

“Chudinov is a good opponent. The belt is vacant because he lost his last one but he was a bit unlucky in that fight. There are still some unknowns about him. We haven’t seen how far he can be pushed, but I know I’m capable of beating him.

“I believe this is the best opportunity for me to achieve my dream and become World Champion. Time is on my side. I had a good year last year, and I’m in a good place. I’ve put in the work, and now, I need to make this count.

“Everything that’s happened in the past has just made me more determined. I know the pressure is on, and I can’t afford to make any more mistakes. This might be my best chance to win a World title, but it could also be my last.

“It’s up to me to deliver. I want to be World Champion and I want to be involved in some huge fights. I know I’m good enough, and with Shane in my corner, I’m back to my best, and ready to make to make it happen.”

Groves’ clash with Chudinov is part of a huge night of action in Sheffield as Kell Brook defends his IBF World Welterweight title against unbeaten mandatory challenger Errol Spence.

Jamie Cox will be gunning for the winner of the Groves-Chudinov clash as he faces Lewis Taylor for the vacant WBA Continental title and there’s a pair of Commonwealth title fights as David Allen faces Lenroy Thomas for the Heavyweight crown and Andy Townend and Jon Kays meet for the Super-Featherweight strap.

Three Team GB Rio Olympians fight in the form of Joe Cordina, Lawrence Okolie and debutant Anthony Fowler, while there’s action for Brook’s Ingle Gym colleagues Atif Shafiq, Kyle Yousaf and Nadeem Siddique.

Limited tickets remain on sale priced as follows: tiered seating at £40, £60 and £80 and pitch seats at £80, £100, £150 and £200 –VIP Packages are sold out.

Tickets are on sale from Sheffield United’s Box Office at http://www.sufc.co.uk/tickets/, on 0114 253 7200 and in person from the box office at Bramall Lane – all tickets purchased from Sheffield United are subject to a 10 per cent booking fee.

Face value tickets for May 27 are also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.

Beterbiev Warns Rivals "I've No time for Rattlebrains I just want to beat the best!"

24.05.2017

Dynamite puncher Artur Beterbiev talks to Livefight ahead of July 29 IBF eliminator

By Michael J Jones

Artur Beterbiev



THE STRICKEN BOXER took one final left hook followed by a whipping right-uppercut and jack-knifed to the canvas for the fourth occasion. On his front, he lurched up dazedly to look to the referee, his face a mask of pain and shock “how has this happened to me?” The ref completed the count and Artur Beterbiev announced himself as one of the world’s best fighters.

Tavoris Cloud, as a former IBF world champion and a veteran of 26 bouts, was meant to provide the first meaningful test to the gifted Russian but, to put it plainly, he was clinically and ruthlessly destroyed….against a man with just five pro contests to his name entering the fight.

“I was not surprised by my convincing victory over Tavoris Cloud in the second round” recalls Artur Beterbiev nearly three years later. “However, to be honest, I thought the fight would be longer and was preparing very seriously for this fight. However, this is boxing, I hit him hard, saw he was shaken and decided to not let him escape. It happened so fast, but I would not call it a surprise.”

Since his landmark victory, the former outstanding amateur has continued to inflict violent terror in the 175lb ranks. To date he has halted eleven straight pro opponents whilst picking up a collection of titles. At 32, he now looks to continue his dominance against the world’s best light-heavyweight fighters in what is a superb division in boxing.

Up next will be German contender Enrico Koelling on July 29th in Quebec City. The bout will serve to grant the winner the IBF number one position and potentially put him in line to face the victor of the mouth-watering rematch between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.

“I have been training very hard since mid-January. I should always be in perfect shape so that I could seize an opportunity when my next opponent comes up. You know very well the story when Sullivan Barrera declined to fight me. Afterwards the IBF launched an expedited procedure to find me an opponent.”

“To cut a long story short, Enrico Koelling agreed to challenge me one hour before the expiry time in an IBF final eliminator so my next fight should take place against him. As far as I know GYM (Groupe Yvon Michel*) must inform the IBF before May 19, 2017, about the location and date of the fight. So far the preliminary date and place of fight is set in Quebec City on July 29th, 2017, but everything may change.”

Before the explosive-punching Russian’s own belated fight date, three tasty-looking light-heavyweight bouts are set to go ahead in June, with the said rematch between Kovalev and Ward occurring on the 17th and a double-header featuring before then on June 3rd.

WBC champion Adonis Stevenson will face Andrzej Fonfara in a return match, the co-feature will see rising Eleider Alvarez take on former champion Jean Pascal in a classic cross-roads bout. The latter two fights take place in Canada and one would think Beterbiev would be a keen observer though he plays down such notions when Livefight asks him his thoughts on the above matches.

“I know that in June the fans will see some good boxing in the light-heavyweight division” the undefeated star reasons. “However, I do not follow any boxers and do not watch any fights live. I am training very hard during the week, so I dedicate my leisure time to my family during the weekend and don’t watch any boxing. I only watch the recorded fights of my future opponents with my coach (Marc Ramsay). This is part of my preparation for the next bout.”

In an incredibly successful amateur career comprising of over 300 bouts, Beterbiev was a two-time Olympian who also was a world champion and a two-time European champion before turning pro four years ago.

Obviously no easy question, but I ask what Artur’s own personal highlights of his amateur career were?

“My first highlight in the amateurs was when I went to Beijing in 2008 to take part in the Olympics. I was dreaming about the Olympic Games since my childhood. However, I was very much disappointed with the Olympics because of the biased judgement (Beterbiev lost a dubious decision in his second-round match).”

In his second Olympic Games in London, Beterbiev, boxing in the heavyweight division, would lose a debatable decision to future cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk.

“Another highlight was when I became a world champion. It is always very emotional when you step up to the podium. When I turned from juniors to adult category, I already received offers to become a professional boxer. However, at that time I was not thinking seriously about that path and that’s why I was fully focused on my amateur career.”

“From my childhood I have admired two great boxers; Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. I consider Muhammad Ali as a legend, he left an undeniable mark on the sports. I cannot even name a second athlete who could be compared to him.”

The Russian in training last week



Similarly to his hero Tyson, the Montreal-based knock-out artist was matched against experienced opposition as he began his ascendancy in the pro ranks and proceeded to stop all in his path with chilling efficiency. There’s no wild swings from the Russian, he marches forwards purposefully with his hands high and uses subtle movements to time his power punches both to head and body. His defensive skills are also underrated; he often slips an opponent's punch just enough to stay in range and land the counter blow.

Once an opponent is hurt, he pounces to deliver the finishing combination. Of his eleven vanquished foes to date, only one has suceeded in navigating past the fourth round.

“I do not know if I always was a strong puncher. However, it is true that I finished many of my fights in the amateurs before time by knocking out my opponents” the 32 year old comments on his freakish power. “As for my training program I always wanted to learn something new from my childhood; power, stamina, techniques, etc. I am very much interested in everything which is new for me.”

“I believe that even now I have not achieved even 50 percent of what I could have achieved regarding my boxing skills. I am always for the progress in everything and during the training sessions I do my best to improve my punching power, finesse, stamina, physical and mental toughness. The attributes necessary for a top fighter have always excited me.”

One man did have the audacity to have a short-lived moment of success against Beterbiev though. The American Jeff Page Jr, 15-0 coming in, briefly floored the favourite with a right in the first round when the two met in December 2014 although Artur strongly denies it was a genuine knock-down.

“My brief trip to the canvas against Jeff Page I lost my footing. If you re-watch the video of this fight attentively, you will see that at that very moment I was in a very unstable position. Even one small push was enough to lose the balance, so this is what really happened.”

To punctuate his point, the Russian pole-axed Page in the very next round to score yet-another early finish.

After Page Jr paid for his fleeting moment of glory, Beterbiev would then crush former world champion Gabriel Campillo in four before grinding out a seven-round stoppage of Alexander Johnson in his sole bout outside of Canada as a pro (knocking out Johnson in Chicago).

He would have surgery on a niggling shoulder injury soon after which forced him out for twelve months but seemed back to his best last year with brutal knock-outs of Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna and Isidro Ranoni Prieto in June and December respectfully.

“My shoulder I had surgery on in 2015 it just got stronger and I even feel more comfortable now when I punch with my right hand” confirms the unbeaten light-heavy. “I felt discomfort before the surgery, but now everything is OK. My last two fights after the surgery may serve as a proof of this.”

With men such as Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev in his sights, is the 11-0 puncher concerned he has yet to go past round seven so far in his career when the above men have all navigated ten or twelve rounds on numerous occasions?

“I have absolutely no concern that I have not been past the seventh round during my professional career” insists Artur. “Before every fight I train very hard and get prepared for twelve rounds. That’s why physically, mentally, and psychologically I am always ready to fight to the last round. But if I get an opportunity to finish the fight earlier, I always do this.”

Beterbiev has history with former WBO champion Kovalev. The two men were said to be amateur team mates and regular sparring partners at one time who fought each other twice before they turned professional with Beterbiev winning on both occasions.

Since becoming one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, Kovalev has gone on record to say the second of the said fights was a “gift decision” to his fellow Russian. Clearly a man of few words and who prefers to do all of his talking in the ring, Beterbiev refuses to fuel any trash-talk between the pair.

“Some boxers are 'rattlebrains', and I am not that kind of person” responds Artur of Kovalev's comments. “I always pay attention to what I say. What does all this mouth trash serve for? I would prefer to battle in the ring instead of entering into word battles by making empty declarations. As for my fights against Kovalev in the amateurs, he may say whatever he wishes, it is all the same to me. He must have forgotten a Russian proverb which says 'There's no use in throwing punches after the fight'.”

With the IBF eliminator vs Koelling scheduled, does that mean Beterbiev is openly targeting the Kovalev-Ward winner?

“I do not look ahead of time. My goal now is to win at least one (world championship) belt. I do not care who might become my opponent for the world title: Ward, Kovalev or any other boxer. The most important thing for me is to take part in a championship fight. However, I am not thinking about this now, because my most important bout is the next one. I need a victory to become a mandatory contender so that nobody could avoid me.”

Artur Beterbiev has shown few weaknesses so far in his eleven early victories but, at 32-years-old, is there a time scale for the completion of his career as a professional boxer?

Destroyed:Beterbiev whips Cloud


“As long as I am an acting athlete I don’t have the right to think about retirement. Of course, I am not planning to leave boxing in near future, but if it turns out that I will have to finish my career, I think I will be able to realize myself in other areas, because I have several university degrees.”

Finally, Artur had this to say to his fans in the UK.

“It is always my pleasure to thank my fans all over the world for supporting me. As for the UK fans I would like to convey my warmest greetings to them. I took part in the 2012 Olympics in London, what a wonderful city! I like England, your country is a birthplace of modern boxing. Such great boxers as Lennox Lewis, (ABA champion) Gary Johnson, Henry Cooper, (another former outstanding amateur) Charles Morris, Ricky Hatton, David Haye, Dereck Chisora have made England famous in the boxing world, let alone an amateur boxer and avid boxing fan Jack London."

"I always admire UK arenas fully packed with English fans. I hope that one day I will have an opportunity to combat before my UK fans, everything is possible!”

Next opponent Enrico Koelling appears to be a solid but unspectacular-type. He is 23-1 but has only six knock-outs on his record and hasn't beaten anyone who could be viewed as genuine world-class. Expect the German to be clinically dispached inside of three rounds.

Beterbiev's last bout vs Isidro Ranoni Prieto



Livefight would like to thank Artur Beterbiev and his translator Damir Khayretdinov for conducting this interview from their base in Canada.

*The Koelling bout has since been confirmed even though there are currently some issues between Artur and GYM which Livefight chose not to discuss on this occasion because of the potential legal implications involved.

Errol Spence using Khan gym for Brook showdown

17.05.17

By @Livefight

Errol Spence has set up camp in Amir Khan’s gym in Bolton as he prepares to challenge Kell Brook for the IBF World Welterweight title on May 27 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, live on Sky Sports.

Spence touched down in Manchester on Monday as he looks to rip the crown from the Sheffield ace in his backyard, and the unbeaten mandatory challenger will sharpen his tools in the Bolton training base of Brook’s bitter rival, Amir Khan.

Brook Training for Errol Spence

Brook is finalising preparations for the fourth defence of his crown in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands and says that there is nothing that the challenger can do to prevent him cementing his spot as the number one Welterweight in the world at the home of Sheffield United.

“That’s Amir Khan through and through,” said Brook. “He would love to see me lose this fight so he doesn’t have to fight me but that’s not going to happen.

“He can lend Errol his gym but he can’t save him on May 27 and the only thing on my mind is the fight.

“The fans know what I’m about. I’ve gone from moving up to Middleweight to fight Gennady Golovkin to coming back down to face one of the most dangerous Welterweights out there. All I want to do is give the fans what they want – that’s what they deserve.”

Brook’s clash with Spence tops a huge night of action in the steel city where George Groves faces Fedor Chudinov for the vacant WBA World Super-Middleweight title.

Jamie Cox meets Lewis Taylor for the WBA Inter-Continental Super-Middleweight title on his Matchroom Boxing debut while Dave Allen takes on with Lenroy Thomas for the vacant Commonwealth Heavyweight title.

Tickets for the night are still on general sale priced as follows: tiered seating at £40, £60 and £80 and pitch seats at £80, £100, £150 and £200 –VIP Packages are sold out.

Tickets are on sale from Sheffield United’s Box Office at http://www.sufc.co.uk/tickets/, on 0114 253 7200 and in person from the box office at Bramall Lane – all tickets purchased from Sheffield United are subject to a 10 per cent booking fee.

Face value tickets for May 27 are also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.

Warren: Tyson Fury Hearing Postponement is Disgraceful

17.05.17

By @Livefight

Boxing promoter Frank Warren has described the postponement of former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's hearing with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) as "disgraceful".

Fury was charged by UKAD last June for allegedly consuming a performance-enhancing drug. He vacated his titles, admitted to battling depression and his boxing license was revoked in October pending an investigation.

The former WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion, who has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko to win the titles in 2015, has maintained his innocence.

"It's a liberty," Warren told British media. "The man's got a living to get and this thing took place in 2015. It's disgraceful. You've either got a case or you haven't. Why does it drag on from 2015?"

Warren said Fury was "training hard" and time was running out for him to secure his financial future.

"He's 28 years of age, boxing is a young man's game, he's entitled to make a living. If he's done wrong, then get it over with. I think somebody's got to intervene, even if it's the sports minister or something.

"This, on any level, can't be right."




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Nick Webb Surveys Heavyweight Horizon as he Eyes First Pro title

08.05.2017

By Michael J Jones


IN MARCH OF this year, undefeated heavyweight prospect Nick “Wild” Webb made it eleven wins unbeaten by out-scoring tricky Andre Bunga in Edinburgh. The big-punching Chertsey man wanted to impress with his fight shown live on Channel Five but found his smaller opponent in no mood to engage.

Holding, mauling, back-pedalling, turning away; the Germany-based Bunga did everything possible to last the full six. In the last, Webb turned up the heat and rocked his man with a powerful combination but it still went the full six though the 60-54 verdict was a mere formality.

With the win, the 29 year old Webb took his record to 11-0 (9) with only Bunga and Welshman Hari Miles having taken him the distance so far as a pro. The Brighton-based Webb now looks to May 27th for his next outing against an opponent to be named.

With an English-title match against Ricky Hatton-trained Nathan Gorman mooted for later this year, Webb is poised to go from prospect to titlist in the near future providing he keeps winning. An imposing 6’5” and some 255lbs, the Surrey puncher only began boxing aged 21 and is still a work in progress under former British and Commonwealth champion Scott Welch.

The unbeaten heavyweight has only been a pro two years but has done little wrong so far and can really hit with either the right-hand or his thumping left hook. He hasn’t had to show them too much yet but he also has good technical skills honed from a solid amateur career which saw him reach the 2013 ABA final.

Webb began his 2017 campaign with an impressive stoppage of Stockport’s Chris Healey. The result looks even better as Healey went on to beat Welshman Dorian Darch in his next fight in Wales.

“It was one of my best KO’s” Webb tells Livefight last week. “We went in on only a week’s notice and I was very happy with the outcome. I took my time and just let the knock-out come. I ended it with a flurry and a right hook which put him down and cut him. That he’s gone on to beat Darch in Wales makes it look even better.”

After stopping awkward southpaw Healey at 31 seconds of the third, Webb would have that frustrating six-rounder with Bunga two months later but refuses to look at the fight negatively.

“You can look at it two ways with my fight with Bunga” reasons the 29 year old. “On the one hand it was frustrating that I never got him out of there but on the other hand I did six rounds comfortably so my fitness was good and I could have done eight or ten rounds.”

“I should have stuck to boxing behind my jab and been more patient but he was a tricky guy who knew how to survive. I watched some of his fights and he lost to a 7-0 guy named Dennis Don Kiy by a split and I thought he won that one. He’d also only been stopped once (in twelve previous fights) and I watched it (TKO to Sergiej Werwejko) and I don’t believe the fight should have been stopped when it was.”

Although no opponent has yet to be confirmed for his bout later this month, Webb is looking to make his breakthrough onto the UK heavyweight scene soon and is eyeing a few potential rivals for later this year or early 2018.

“I watched the fight between Nathan Gorman and Dominic Akinlade (Gorman took a wide decision a few weeks ago) and, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed with either of them and I’d happily face either in the near future. Both times I’ve seen Akinlade he’s lost, the first time to a journeyman (Josh Sandland*) but didn’t look himself that night.”



*Sandland, from Halifax, beat a 4-0 fighter on his pro debut and then beat the 8-1-1 Akinlade in his second outing so is clearly handy.

“I just want to keep busy with the view of getting some titles now with my main goal to become the British champion.”

The vacant domestic title is to be contested on May 20th by veteran Sam Sexton and Scotland’s once-beaten Gary Cornish in Motherwell. I ask who Webb sees prevailing in the intriguing British title bout between two of his heavyweight rivals.

“I feel both men are on my radar and not above me in any way. Sexton has the superior experience so if he jabs and stays away he can catch Cornish and put him away. I know Cornish, aside from his loss (to Anthony Joshua), has been put down in fights he’s won so I don’t really see him winning.”

The only man to beat Cornish was man-of-the moment Anthony Joshua who went on to become the unified heavyweight champion of the world. The British star has just stopped former long-time ruler Wladimir Klitschko in one of the fights of the year and Nick believes the Ukrainian legend should forget all about a rematch with AJ.

“Klitschko I don’t think will prove anything else if he comes back now. People know he’s been a great fighter and, at 41 after a long career, he’s only going to get worse if he continues. It was a great fight and very entertaining and I believe that shocked a lot of people.”

“Joshua I expected to win after a tough fight and that proved to be the case. On the positive side he showed heart and that he can get hit and still win but (Joshua) also showed he is vulnerable. It was just what he needed and will prove to be a great learning curve for him.”

“He’s had nineteen fights but he was obviously Olympic champion before turning pro and had a lot put into his career to get to where he is now but I’d love to fight at that (world) level someday. There’s a lot of hard work still to do but I feel I can box, brawl and take a punch plus hit hard so I’ve got the tools to get there some time in the future.”

I ask if Nick has ever sparred Joshua or any other notable pros since turning pro two years ago?

“I’ve never sparred AJ but would love the opportunity to do so. I’ve sparred (2-0 puncher and former amateur star) Daniel Dubois, Dereck Chisora and a new guy named Fabio Wardley (who has just made his winning pro debut). Sometimes we get them to come to us other times we have to travel to get the work so it’s all good.”


“I’d just like to thank my supporters, my team and also my sponsors; Time 4 Nutrition, Dudman Group, Prime Gym and the Shore Group.”

Heavyweight Epic: Joshua-Klitschko Post Fight Analysis & Verdict

01.05.2017

By Michael J Jones


NOW WE KNOW. So many unanswered questions surrounded IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua before Saturday night’s clash with former champion Wladimir Klitschko. In one of the best world heavyweight title bouts of the last thirty years, AJ ticked most of the boxes and proved beyond doubt he is a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight ranks.

In stopping Klitschko at 2:25 of the eleventh round, Joshua not only retained his IBF title and added the WBA (Super) and IBO straps to his ever-growing collection, he also sent out a message to the world of boxing; he is no protected paper champion but a class fighter with skill, heart and desire.

What did the unbeaten Watford ace prove? He proved he could soak up punishment and return with better, he proved he has the conditioning to go deep into fights and still be able to perform and he proved he could take on a high calibre of opposition and overcome them.

At 41-years-old, many speculated what the aging former champion had left entering the contest but Klitschko didn’t come to lay down or be dominated. Although the reflexes and accuracy are dimmed from four or five years ago, Klitschko made up for that with his vastly superior ring intelligence and experience of some 68 pro bouts and very nearly pulled off the upset.

Through four rounds Joshua, a career high 250lbs, edged the fight by being a shade more busy and landing the more eye-catching punches. Klitschko, who entered the contest at a chiselled 240½lbs, stalked, feinted, but couldn’t quite get his shots off as his 14-years-younger opponent could.

The fight certainly began as expected but nobody could have predicted what was to follow…

The IBF ruler started the fifth quickly and jarred his Ukrainian foe with a sharp right-uppercut. A follow-up flurry of leather put Klitschko down as AJ scored first blood. The stricken fighter, now 64-5, rose unsteadily as Joshua pounced. The fired-up Brit tried to finish it there and then but walked onto a big left hook-right-hand and suddenly it was he who lurched back hurt.

The bell came to Joshua’s aid to end a sensational round of heavyweight boxing but the fireworks were not to end there.

Early in the next and shortly after the contest was delayed to replace Joshua’s mouthpiece, Klitschko stepped in with a classic one-two. The latter punch sailed straight through Joshua’s guard to land flush. When the force of the booming right-hand exploded into AJ’s face he crashed to the canvas for the first time in his professional career. Up at seven, Joshua took a few more licks as Klitschko couldn’t quite land another meaningful blow in the following minute and a half.

After two consecutive rounds of toe-to-toe mayhem, the pace of the contest understandably eased.

Through rounds seven to ten, Klitschko boxed solidly behind his jab. Following the carnage of rounds five and six, Joshua was more hesitant to engage which enabled Wladimir to settle into a nice rhythm to dictate from ring centre.

After ten pulsating rounds, the fight appeared to be very close as reflected on the scorecards. Two judges had it 96-93 and 95-93 to Joshua while the third scored the latter score to Klitschko*.

Everyone wondered in unison what could possibly happen next?

*I had it all even at 95 points apiece.

As in the fifth, the muscular Joshua started the round quickly and again jarred the older man with that monstrous uppercut…but this time he wasn’t about to let his opponent back into the fight.

A thumping combination dropped Klitschko, but again, showing the heart of a lion, he got up to face the violent music once more. A brutal right uppercut and left hook floored him a second time in the round. He arose once more but was soon backed into a corner with Joshua throwing damaging shots from either hand. The ref waved it off as AJ scored his nineteenth consecutive knock-out and scored by far the finest victory of his career.

For Joshua, who had been heavily criticized for the quality of his opposition before this fight, he answered his critics in style on Saturday night. Yes there are still things to work on but all of the raw materials are there and he will exit his bout with Klitschko a higher level of fighter.


It was sink or swim entering the bout but, after nearly drowning, swim he did.

While the general public laud Joshua as the second coming of Muhammad Ali (the ones that watch boxing approximately once every two years), and the critics continue their negative throw away remarks (“Joshua nearly got thrashed by an old man”), realistically, AJ, as he himself would probably admit, is still a work in progress who has far to go to cement his legacy.

There are further obstacles standing in the way of his goal to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Ringside observer Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, would be an interesting fight as would a clash with WBO king Joseph Parker. Also lurking in the wings are former world champion Tyson Fury and top contenders like Luis Ortiz, Andy Ruiz Jr and Alexander Povetkin.

Klitschko has a rematch clause in the contract for meeting Joshua again but it would be no surprise if that were not to occur. Can Klitschko perform like that once more? Maybe, but then Joshua will probably be an even more dangerous animal in six months with the added big-fight experience thrown in.

Wladimir can retire with immense pride following a fierce display which made this writer forget the Ukrainian’s last drab performance against Fury. Klitschko is an intelligent man and now is the time to prove it rather than risk spoiling his legacy by suffering a more devastating loss to the rapidly-improving winner of Saturday’s bout.

For now though the man of the moment is Mr Anthony Joshua MBE. The unified world heavyweight champion who has just injected a massive dose of excitement into the long-dormant heavyweight division.

We don’t know how the heavyweight puzzle will unfold but it’ll be fun watching it take shape.

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