British boxer Anthony Joshua’s stunning 11th round knockout of Ukrainian legend Wladimir Klitschko was hailed on Sunday as having restored some much-needed prestige to the tarnished image of heavyweight boxing, AFP reports.
Joshua, 27, retained his unbeaten record in the most extreme of circumstances having been knocked to the canvas for the first time in his professional career. But he somehow found the strength to put 41-year-old Klitschko down in the 11th round in front of a euphoric post-World War II British record boxing crowd of 90,000 at Wembley.
In becoming the first pugilist to stop Klitschko since Lamon Brewster in 2004, Joshua added the WBA belt to his IBF and IBO titles.
The epic bout saw the world and his wife, from film stars to other top athletes, chip in with their congratulations.
The troubled former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who transformed the heavyweight scene when he became the first boxer in 11 years to defeat Klitschko in 2015, responded to Joshua’s call for them to bring it on.
“Challenge accepted,” tweeted Fury, who nevertheless has barriers to overcome in regaining his licence after being stripped of it over substance abuse and mental health issues which he says he is addressing.
“We will give the world the biggest fight in 500 years. I will play with you. You are a boxer’s dream.
“Well done Anthony Joshua. Good fight. You had life and death with Klitschko and I played with the guy. Let’s dance,” added Fury, who has made derogatory jibes about Joshua calling him ‘a poor man’s Frank Bruno’ among other things.
Hollywoood action hero, former Mr Universe and Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Joshua.
“One of the most exciting fights I’ve ever seen. Congrats @anthonyfjoshua on the win & @Klitschko on amazing battle. Hope there’s a rematch,” tweeted the 69-year-old Austrian-born star.
Bruno, who won his title at the third time of asking when he defeated Oliver McCall in 1995, said the bout had in an instant made heavyweight boxing the talk of the town after years of decline.
“The heavyweight division just got very exciting, the performance of both men 2night was incredible, what’s next, looking 4ward 2 finding out,” tweeted the 55-year-old whose reign lasted just one bout as he was defeated by American legend ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson.