Yesterday’s boxing heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko had to be one of the most exciting heavyweight title fights in ages. Heading into it, I was prepared for anything because of the fact there were so many variables, and I really had no clue what to expect. Is Klitschko finally old? Or would Klitschko be able to return to his vintage form? Is Joshua as good as advertised? Or is Joshua overhyped? Would it be exciting? Would it be dull? Would there be some sort of judging or refereeing controversy? Could it even end in a draw? I just had to sit there and watch things play out, and that was a great feeling.
While I did get to watch the fight live, I was unfortunately relegated to watching the fight on my phone in a crowded bar with friends (who had next to no interest in watching the fight), so I wasn’t able to give the fight my complete undivided attention until the fourth round or so. At the time of the knockout, I had Klitschko up 95-93 on points after the 10th round, but I would’ve had Joshua up 103-102 after 11 had Klitschko been able to survive the 11th round without getting knocked down again (after rewatching the fight this morning, without the distractions that come from being at a bar with friends, I had it scored 94-94 after 10 because for some reason while watching the fight live I gave Klitschko the 3rd round, but after re-watching it that was clearly a round for Joshua, so I really would’ve had Joshua up 104-101 after 11).
When Joshua came out with guns blazing in the 5th round and knocked Klitschko down, I really thought that maybe this was the end for Klitschko. But much like Hulk Hogan in the 1980s, when it looked like he was down and out it was just the time for Klitschko to make his comeback. I couldn’t believe the way Klitschko rallied and seemed to turn back the clock from that point on. From that point on, I was glued to my phone, and I really started to wonder if perhaps Joshua couldn’t handle going into the deeper rounds and if Klitschko would in fact wear the younger fighter down. I gave Klitschko every round between the 6th and the 9th, and even the 10th round was a pretty close round which I narrowly gave to Joshua.
I’m really not sure who I was cheering for to be honest with you. Even though I wasn’t Klitschko’s biggest fan in his prime, mainly because of his questionable level of opposition in some of his fights, there were moments I did find myself rooting for him to pull off the upset yesterday. But there were moments too where I was rooting for Joshua to complete the changing of the guard atop the heavyweight division. Overall, it was an entertaining fight to watch and I wish heavyweight boxing, and combat sports in general, could be like that more often.
There’s several options out there for Anthony Joshua to fight next. There’s a possible rematch with Klitschko, which I am interested in seeing at some point, but I’m not 100% sure I want to see it immediately and I don’t need to see it. It’s not due to a lack of competitiveness in the fight yesterday, because yesterday was a great fight and worthy of a rematch at some point, it’s just that I’d rather see some other matchups first.
The big fights to make are Joshua against the lineal and The Ring magazine heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and against the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. But there’s also a potential bout with WBO champion Joseph Parker, or the WBA mandated challenger Luis Ortiz, and the IBF mandated challenger Kubrat Pulev.
Really, what I’d love to see next for Joshua is a showdown with Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder. That’s taking nothing away from the other fighters I mentioned, but I would just rather see Joshua face the lineal champion Tyson Fury in an all-Britain matchup which would be sure to be a major event. If not Fury, then I’d rather see him face Wilder, who I think would be a better quality of opposition than Parker, Ortiz or Pulev.
As for Klitschko? I don’t think he needs to retire, because quite frankly he looked better yesterday than he did versus Tyson Fury. But he really has nothing left to prove in my opinion because he ruled the heavyweight division for 10 years. I’d be interested in seeing his career continue if he wants to continue fighting because he’s still one of the best heavyweights in the world in my opinion, but he doesn’t need to. His legacy as one of the all-time greats has already been cemented.