Joshua-Klitschko and boxing's highest attended fights
April 29, 2017
Later today at Wembley Stadium in London, England the boxing world will stand at attention for the heavyweight division. IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) will meet former undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs). The WBA Super Heavyweight Championship will also be on the line.
This will be the biggest test of Joshua’s career as Klitschko has more knockouts on his record than Joshua has fought in total. For Klitschko, this is a chance to show the boxing world that he is still a force at heavyweight even at 41 years of age. In Klitschko’s last fight he dropped a wide unanimous decision to Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) in what may have been the worse performance of his career.
While in the United States Joshua-Klitschko is not getting the attention it deserves by major media outlets make no mistake that this fight is still a huge event and could be the dawning of a new age for heavyweight boxing. The fight is taking place at Wembley Stadium where there will be an expected 90,000 fans to fill up the stadium. This is unprecedented for a boxing match in this era and highlights boxing’s popularity out of the United States. This is not the first time a boxing match has brought a large group of people together. Let’s take a look at two of boxing’s highest attended fights.
Carl Froch (33-2, 24 KOs) vs. George Groves (25-3, 18 KOs) II 05/31/2014
IBF and WBA Super Middleweight Championship – Wembley Stadium
The last huge event to be held at Wembley Stadium came as recently as three years ago when Carl Froch met George Groves for the second time. The build-up for this bout was different in comparison to Joshua-Klitschko as both men traded insults to make this a grudge match. The first fight between Froch and Groves ended in controversy as to many the bout was stopped early after Groves controlled most of the action for the first eight rounds scoring a knockdown in the first round. The fight was stopped in the ninth round.
The controversy helped make the rematch even bigger as it sold 60,000 tickets within the first hour tickets went on sale. The fight also sold 900,000 in pay-per-view buys over in the U.K. The rematch was also competitive but ended in dramatic fashion in the eighth round with a Froch right hand that flattened Groves. Groves was unable to get up in time, and the fight was stopped. With an estimated 80,000 in attendance in Wembley Stadium, Froch-Groves II was the richest fight to have ever taken place on British soil. It’s possible that this record is broken tonight by Joshua-Klitschko.
Julio Cesar Chavez (107-6-2, 86 KOs) vs. Greg Haugen (40-10-1, 19 KOs) 02/20/1993
WBC Super Lightweight Championship – Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
In 1993, Julio Cesar Chavez was ranked as one of the best fighters in the world and held an outstanding record of 84-0. After one of Chavez’s victories, Haugen would go into the ring and claim that Chavez had filled his record with nothing but Tijuana taxi drivers. This turned the fight into a grudge match that garnered one of the largest crowds for a sporting event. 132, 274 fans of Chavez filled up Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
The bout was more of a prolonged beat down by Chavez than an actual boxing match. Within the first minute, Chavez knocked Haugen down and proceeded to beat on him until the fight was stopped in the fifth round. Haugen famously remarked after the fight “ They must have been tough taxi drivers.”
There have been other fights that have packed stadiums such as Manny Pacquiao’s pair of contests in 2010 at Cowboys’ Stadium and Canelo Alvarez last September in Cowboys Stadium where 50,000 fans filled the stadium for his fight with Liam Smith.
Possibly the last fight that filled a stadium that was between the two best in the division was between Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs) and Mikkel Kessler (46-3, 35 KOs) in November 2007. The fight took place at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales in front of over 50,000 fans.
Regardless of the outcome, tonight Joshua-Klitschko is a spectacle that should be celebrated, as it is rare for such events to take place in boxing. Tonight, boxing shows us once again as it has many times before that it is far from dead.
(Feature Photo: Esther Lin)