On April 29, 2017, reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defended his title against former unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Kiltschko in front of 90,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, London, with the World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) heavyweight titles – both vacated, on medical grounds, by Tyson Fury the previous October – also at stake.
After a circumspect first four rounds, in the fifth round Joshua, 27, unleashed a flurry of punches, including a solid left hook, which sent Klitschko, face first to the canvas. To his credit, despite a heavily cut left eye, Klitschko, 41, rose quickly and, although he briefly looked in danger of being stopped, turned the tables on his opponent in the latter part of the round, landing a series of powerful punches. Indeed, in the second minute sixth round, Klitschko scored a knockdown of his own, felling Joshua with a devastating overhand right; Joshua, too, was on the verge of being stopped, but was able to recover as the fight played out.
In the eleventh round, Joshua delivered a vicious uppercut, which precipitated two further knockdowns and, ultimately, forced referee David Fields to intervene, with Klitschko pinned on the ropes and unable to defend himself. At the time of his victory, by technical knockout, Joshua led 96-93 and 95-93 on the scorecards of American judge Don Trella and Puerto Rican judge Nelson Vazquez, respectively, but trailed 93-95 on the scorecard of American judge Steve Weisfeld. Despite redeeming himself from a lacklustre performance against Tyson Fury, which cost him his three major belts, seventeen months earlier, and performing better ‘than most people thought he had in his entire career’, according to trainer Johnathon Banks, Klitschko announced his shock retirement from boxing, with immediate effect, in August, 2017.