Did Klitschko expose certain Anthony Joshua weaknesses? Lets take a look back at the titan of a heavyweight title boxing event at Wembley.
Saturday night was predicted to be the passing of the guard in the heavyweight division.
Many saw the much younger, fresher champion bulldozing his way through a legend who’s latest underwhelming performance planted understandable doubt in the minds of the boxing public.
What we got instead was an instant classic, the memory of which will not be fading any time soon. It was the kind of fight you will tell your children about when reciting stories of your youth.
Yes, the expectant victor Anthony Joshua prevailed but it was not without considerable adversity, and, perhaps it is important not to get too ahead of ourselves in heaping praise on the young British lion just yet.
Former champion Wladimir Klitschko turned back the clock and proved he is still very much a force to be reckoned with, even at 41.
Even through losing via 11th round knockout, his ranking amongst the list of all time great heavyweight fighters is arguably more secure now than it has ever been.
He caused Joshua numerous problems from the opening bell and there is a very good argument to be made that, despite being stopped, he offered the better boxing performance of the two.
There are also those who found outrage at the fact Klitschko was behind on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
His jab was consistent in breaking through AJ’s guard, while Joshua’s jab often found itself hanging thanks to Wladimir not being afraid to take a backward step.
Yes, Joshua found success in the fifth, dropping the Ukrainian bomber, but it was only after a full-on charge many saw as reckless and out-of-character for a champion who usually takes his time and restrains himself until the time is right.
Had a younger, sharper man been sharing the ring with Joshua he might not have been afraid to counter rather than succumbing to the onslaught.
On top of this, the dominant champion fell foul to the most classic and iconic of Klitschko manoeuvres in round six – the Klitschko ‘One-Two’.
The most popular and recognisable of boxing’s punch combinations, yet made infinitely more famous by Wladimir and his brother Vitali.
Pauli Malignaggi’s prediction about Joshua’s lack of head movement being his biggest issue came to pass and it was perhaps the key flaw out of the Joshua weaknesses.
Joshua was dropped hard for the first time in his career. The old master had gained the better of the former student.
Many fans, myself included, did not see Joshua getting back up. It was a monster of a shot that would have obliterated 99% of competitors.
But he did get up, as you well know.
Having survived the big scare, Joshua absorbed some horrific shots before the end of the round finally came – it was a miracle he survived.
This was where Joshua finally started fighting the smart fight, rather than the heavy handed one.
Recognising his own vulnerability, he spent the next two rounds coasting, recovering and recuperating, only occasionally giving Klitschko something to keep wary of – a veteran tactic from a relative youngster.
It was finally in the eleventh where Joshua’s power proved to be too much for his opponent, as it would be for any man.
With an emphatic uppercut, now perhaps the most famous fight photograph on the Internet, Joshua had Klitschko rocked and closed out the show with a string of heavy knockdowns.
However, as impressive as the finish was, we must remember to take the negative with the positive and not to let the size of the occasion disguise the fact that it was far from a perfect performance.
Joshua got caught. Joshua got hurt. Joshua got dropped. Joshua almost got beat.
Make no mistake, things almost went very wrong for the man on whom an entire nation now pins it’s sporting hopes and dreams.
Trainer Rob McKracken now has arguably the most important job in British sport – to ensure the undefeated champion stays that way and improves on what was a tremendous fight, but more importantly, a brutal learning experience.
Some people are laughing at the concept of a rematch – I personally would love to see that all over again. Here’s hoping Joshua tightens all the necessary nuts and bolts before then.