- Joshua wins by TKO in 11th round
- IBF world heavyweight champ wins IBO and WBA belts
- Joshua on canvas once, Klitschko three times
- 90,000 crowd at Wembley for biggest fight for 80 years
- Taylor, Campbell and Quigg all win in undercard
Anthony Joshua has retained his IBF world heavyweight title and won the vacant WBA and IBO belts by defeating Wladimir Klitschko in a pulsating, tospy-turvy fight in front of the biggest boxing audience in the UK for almost 80 years.
Joshua had to get off the canvas to do it after being knocked down in the sixth by the 41-year-old former champion and for a long troubling spell afterwards he looked on the brink of imminent defeat as he wobbled and clung on without counter-punching.
But he withstood all Klitschko's attempts to finish the fight off and rallied late to knock the challenger to the floor twice in the 11th round, the first teed up by a savage uppercut and the second with a venomous left hook.
Klitschko, who held at least one version of the title for 15 years from 2000, took mandatory eight counts both times but was then backed into a corner and forced the referee to step in to protect him because he was unable to defend himself.
Klitschko had also been felled in the fifth but Joshua also came desperately close to defeat after suffering the first knockdown of his 19-fight professional career one round later.
Perhaps suffering momentary over-confidence, he was felled by a huge right hander in a bruising seesaw encounter that had both fighters scenting victory.
Eventually it was Joshua, 14 years the 41-year-old Ukrainian's junior, who showed the heart and stamina to claim an epic contest in one of the greatest performances by a British fighter and one raucously celebrated by 90,000 fans.
Wladimir Klitschko speaks
London I love you. The best man won tonight. Two gentlemen fought each other. Anthony was better than me tonight. It was really sad I didn't do it. Love and respect to you guys, you are awesome. I wish I could raise my hands instead of not winning the title back. [A re-match?] I have to work out what the hell happened here.
Well, what can I say. First and foremost 19 and 0, three and a half years in the game. I'm not perfect but I'm trying. If you don't take part you fail. I want to give a biog shout out to my trainer and GB boxing, to 90,000 people in the arena and lastly a massive shout-out for Wladimir Klitschko. I'm not going to say too much in case he wants to come back and fight me again but he is a role model in and out for the ring and I've got huge respect and love for Wladimir Klitschko ... I am a little bit emotional because there are people who think I can't do it. I dig deep and you never know the outcome.
Boxing's about character and when you go to the trenches that when you find out where you are. There's nowhere to hide in that little ring. I came out and won that's how deep i had to dig. I fought my heart out.
And Tyson Fury baby, where are you man? I want to give 90,000 people another chance to watch a night like this.
Gareth on round 11
Rd 11 The place has gone mad. Klitschko is down twice after he was hurt by a left hook and a four punch combination. The brave old champion is up, and Joshua is on him again. Down goes Klitschko again as the spite is there in AJ from another murderous left hook. Up again is the Ukrainian. But he looks gone. Joshua traps him in his own corner and unleashes hell, as he promised he would, and referee David Fields has seen enough as Klitschko's head is battered across his shoulders, Great fight, by any standards. Joshua wins by TKO in the eleventh round
What an extraordinary assault in round 11
First a vicious uppercut put him on the floor, followed by a right cross. A brutal left hook knocked him down a second time in this round then a crisp combo finished the old warrior in the corner and Klitschko went out on his shield. Brilliant finale. It was close and topsy-turvy throughout.
Round 10 of 12
Joshua has rediscovered some mojo and uses his right hand over the top to smack into Klitschko's neck. He's dancing again now though Klitschko knows he has this so far if nothing dramatic happens so stands behind the jab and when Joshua pushes it, Klitschko belts him with a big right hand. Tony Bellew thinks Klitschko is tiring and has to land a right hand and not play chess.
Joshua has his senses back and is bouncing again on his feet. Big overhand right from AJ glances, and a better one glances, too. Then a body shot. Klitschko looks tired. Two rights on the bell from Klitschko. Klitschko 10/9
Round 9 of 12
Klitschko is still on his toes but an excellent right from Joshua stops him in his tracks followed by a cute left hook to the solar plexus. Most people at the ringside have Joshua behind by at least a point and with Klitschko's experience at tying opponents up, Joshua needs to find some concussive rhythm and soon.
Gareth on Round 8
Big right hand from Klitschko as they fence at each other with the jab. Jab, jab from AJ. My God he is learning on the job tonight. Klitschko creating angles and looking to do damage with at right hand again. Light on his feet, too. AJ less so. That big right wins WK the round. Klitschko 10-9
Round 8 of 12
Virgin territory for Joshua and Klitschko, at 41, still looks fresh in his footwork. Joshua was told to work the combinations and get his jab going but Klitschko is backing him into a neutral corner then attempting to work him over but he doesn't have the stamina to sustain the assault and Joshua is coming back and whacks him over the right ear with a long straight left.
Round 7 of 12
Klitschko is still trying to set up that right hand. Joshua is in retreat, throwing no jabs, breathing out of his backside. Klitschko's experience and wiliness are poised to pounce. With 40 seconds left Joshua is still on the back foot and looks like a sitting duck. But he withstands a heavy right and Klitschko nods at him. He's trying to play for time to recover. Klitschko should have finished it in the past two rounds.
Round 5 of 12
Rob McCracken told Joshua to relax but he starts like a train and puts Klitschko on to the canvas with a punishing sequence of lefts but back comes Klitschko and lands right after left after right. It''s Joshua who is on the brink now. He stays on his feet but he is not defending himself properly. He rides it out. Blimey.
Round 4 of 12
Klitschko catches Joshua with a brutal right hand after a left hook and Joshua has to take recourse in a hold that the referee breaks. Joshua isn't troubled so much as disconcerted as Klitschko tries to line up the left hook. Landing those punches has spurred Klitschko's confidence but he leaves himself open and Joshua snaps a left on to his opponent's jaw but not square on. Klitschko looks enlivened.
Round 3 of 12
Terrific combination from Joshua and he deploys his hand speed to catch Klitschko with a right-left-right to Klitschko's head. The challenger backs off and tries to get his hands up then jumps back to avoid the jab. Deontay Wilder says Klitschko cannot last long at this round's pace from Joshua who has got his percussive jab working. Klitschko looked rattled for the first time.
Round 2 of 12
Klitschko comes straight into the centre and throws a big right hand that doesn't rock Joshua but gas marked him above the left eye. Better from Klitschko, using the jab but Joshua rallies strongly and hits a rapid right overhand. Klitschko using his geometry to slip away. Has some sap in his legs too, Klitschko.
Round 1 of 12
The crowd sings Oh Anthony Joshua to the tune of Seven Nation Army. There's a lot of feinting and thrusting as they both try to scope out the centre of the ring. Joshua fires a right but is out of range. A couple of rights connect followed by a left. Klitschko is looking to stay way beyond Joshua's reach. Good body shot for Joshua. Nothing from cagey Klitschko, Joshua similarly conservative.
Fascinating. Real battle as they both try to establish dominance of the jab. Better work from AJ. More landed. He's up against a great boxer and he knows it now No right hands from Klitschko - yet, 10/9 Joshua
Gareth A Davies has had a vision
Closed my eyes... soaked it up, and I've just had a vision/premonition, of Anthony Joshua grinning away in the dressing room after the fight, with media gathered around him,., having KO'd Klitschko in the fourth or fifth round. I think AJ will try to establish his jab to be faster than WK in the first and then get more bullish in the second. This is so, so big for him. It will never be the same if he loses. ... now the OH OH ANTHONY JOSH-U-A has started. It will be Sweet Caroline too in mo... here we go...
How does Gareth think this will pan out?
Klitschko has been accustomed to controlling fights. Joshua will not want to let him, and will look for a steady assault from late in the second round onwards. If the home favourite has not hurt, or stopped, Klitschko by round seven, the youngster could get manned out of the fight by the wizened old ways of Klitschko. We cannot rule that out, but I do not see it. For me, Joshua stops Klitschko inside five rounds, his vim, vigour, explosiveness and youth proving too much for the old legs of Klitschko.
Victories for all of Eddie Hearn's fighters so far
As you'd expect: Joe Cordina, rather too easily for the matchmaking business, Katie Taylor was stretched a little more and looked scrappy at times, Luke Campbell grew into the fight and wore Perez down with guile and class while Scott Quigg slugged it out and used his superior power to win in unanimously on points.
Gareth A Davies reports
Amazing sporting occasion and real sense of a special moment here, the sun is down the neon has taken over and there is almost a distracted hubbub in this near full stadium as we await the arrival of Joshua and Klitschko. These are the die hard boxing fans and the hipster chattering classes on a great night out. They expect. England expects, the UK, Nigeria and even America expects - Anthony Joshua must deliver.
Massive massive cheer when the jumbotron screens above the ring showed AJ with Rob McCracken having his hands wrapped in the dressing room.
I'm hearing it will be 9.30 pm ring walks, Klitschko first of course and it's growing a little chillier. The ex champion could be out here 20-25 mins before that first bell. He ll need to stay warm.
The anticipation is so palpable here
Round 10 of 12
Quigg showing his doggedness and strength again even though he continues to be caught by the spirited Simion. What a terrific fight this has been and Simion is still hanging in there, exposing Quigg's defensive flaws. Carl Froch, the co-commentator, thinks Quigg simply doesn't rate Simion's power so is prepared to take risks.
World champ Lee Selby thinks he knows what will happen to the winner:
Quigg takes control
Both look beaten-up and Quigg is bleeding behind his left ear but a sequence of spiteful left hooks must take their toll on Simion. At last Quigg steps back and throws a steely right hand that crashes into Simion's temple but the game Romanian will not be cowed. This is tremendous. Fighting not boxing but a remarkable spectacle.
Round 3 of 12
Simion has a crafty knack of dipping his shoulders to evade blows. Quigg has discovered more precision now with a series of malignant body shots. Simion had the better defence but then takes a vicious right to the left cheek. He counters forcefully, though, and elicits a slip from his opponent. This is some scrap.
Simion starts like a train
Quigg has the shortest shorts of the night, he throws a left and leaves his chin open for a Simion left hook. And again. That's a frantic start from Quigg, very loose. Simion is a tenacious so and so and the effect is two terriers going for it straight from the off. Simion connects with another left hook behind Quigg's right ear. Quigg goes for body shots. This is something of a tear-up already. Simion won that comfortably.
Before the main event here's a Coral offer
Scott Quigg is about to enter
He takes on Viorel Simion in an IBF featherweight title eliminator. Quigg, who lost his world super bantamweight title to Carl Frampton in what I always like to think of as the Nynex in Manchester 14 months ago, comes out to the familiar strains of Oasis's Rock and Roll Star.
Round 7 of 12
Campbell carries on in the ascendancy and though he has worn a couple of big shots in the past couple of rounds, his right-hand body shots are causing Perez real problems. The former world champ looks seriously hacked off when he wobbles from a stinging right cross. Campbell firmly in control now.
Campbell switches tack
And draws some of Perez's sting with body shots. You can see Campbell's youthful bounce by contrast with Perez's shimmies now but just as I wrote that he does an Ali shuffle and counters strongly, landing with a left-right combo to the head, pulls him in close and then cracks a couple of sly ones to the back of Campbell's head.
Perez continues to look assured
Campbell comes in closer and lets off a couple of double-right jabs in his southpaw stance but when he tries to set him up for the crashing left hook over the top, Perez slips it and counters with a withering right. Perez is answering everything and looks as though he's enjoying it. My, he looks sharp, exploiting Campbell's lack of experience. Better round for Campbell.
Taylor squarely on top
Meinke comes out for the third without her gumshield, smiles when she realises and goes to fetch it. Taylor uses her power to wriggle out of the attempted headlock and land some quick combos on the inside then impressively slips a hook when they separate before firing two accurate lefts.
Meinke is very keen on holding when against the ropes but dances into the open ring, trying a couple of big shots. Her eye is starting to swell and she is hit by a steely left and right that causes her to stumble.
Joe Cordina wins in the first round
Vib, who took this fight only a few days, is quickly in trouble and goes on to his knee after a glancing left-hand to the temple, perseveres then goes down a minute later when hit with a right to the body and a crisp combination to the head. It's all over in the first because Vib cannot get up to beat the count.
Here's a betting offer from Coral if you fancy a flutter
Gareth A Davies has arrived at Wembley and reports
It's been a very busy week in the build up for all of us but the roll of 90,000 fans to this huge boxing event is taking its toll on all roads leading to Wembley Stadium. As a fight correspondent I really do adore and savour these nights ... the deadlines, the excitement, just bring the jungle drums ... it's Fight Night, baby."
The fear factor
On a night like tonight it always pays to remember the words of Cus d'Amato if anyone mentions the fearlessness of the fighters:
Boxing is a sport of self-control. You must understand fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you; it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you’re in the dark and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you, even kill you … fear is a friend of exceptional people.
Wembley Stadium's past as a boxing venue for top of the bill fighters
In the old Empire Stadium in 1924 Tommy Gibbons beat Jack Bloomfield. In 1930 Young Stribling defeated Phil Scott. Five years later Walter Neusel forced Jack Peterson to retire and two years on Neusel fought there again and beat Maurice Strickland.
The first post-war fight there was not until 1956 for a low-key super lightweight bout between Arthur Murphy and Phil McCoy, In 1959 Wembley hosted a proper stramash between Willie Pastrano and Joe Erskine before Henry Cooper vs Cassius Clay in 1963 and 23 years before Bruno v Witherspoon and another nine-year wait for Frank's greatest night.
In the new stadium all we've had so far is the Froch vs Groves re-match in 2014 when Froch settled it beyond all doubt.
Are you ready to rumble?
Tonight, shortly after 10pm, after months of preparation, hype and high, apple pie, in the sky hopes, Anthony Joshua, Olympic and IBF world heavyweight champion of Garston, near Watford in Hertfordshire, takes on Wladimir Klitschko, Olympic and former world heavyweight champion, of Kiev, Ukraine, for the IBF, IBO and WBA belts.
There will be 90,000, mainly partisan home fans at Wembley Stadium for the fight who will be fizzing with eager anticipation for Michael Buffer to take the microphone for the main event. Boxing schedules are as elastic as London Underground departure board minutes so it is unlikely that things will get underway according to plan when the clock strikes 10. Nonetheless Buffer, reported to be earning £4m for tonight’s shift, will be greeted by a full-throated Wembley roar, the kind that resounded when Carl Froch met George Groves there in 2014 and at the old stadium when Frank Bruno fought Tim Witherspoon in 1986 and Oliver McCall nine years later.
Joshua, 27, the smart, engaging favourite with a sprightly levity as well as the tungsten-toughness, has weighed in at 17st 10lbs, 10lb heavier than the 41-year-old Klitschko. It is clear from his size that Joshua’s intention is to use his considerable, concussive force to bully Klitschko who looks sharp, honed and sounds imperturbably focused.
If Joshua fails to stop Klitschko early, there are legitimate concerns about his stamina, his ability to carry all that weight for the first time over an entire 36 minutes but there are bigger doubts about the challenger who, in truth, hasn’t been consistently dominant against a credible opponent for more than a decade, since his second victory over Chris ‘Rapid Fire’ Byrd in 2006.
A vast global audience anticipates a classic and though they are rare these days, Klitschko’s pride and savvy and Joshua’s class and boldness justify the optimism. All the same, we know it will be an occasion, a potential ‘great night in British sport’, one whose repercussions will resonate beyond sport. Join us here for the duration, for build-up, analysis, live reports, the undercard and full coverage of the main event. Are you ready to rumble?