Last Saturday night, Wladimir Klitschko was as close as one punch away from beating Anthony Joshua in Saturday's world heavyweight title showdown, his manager has claimed.
Both men had to climb off the canvas in an 11-round epic in front of 90,000 at Wembley, but Joshua had the lasting power to pummel Klitschko late on and add the vacant WBA and IBO belts to his IBF crown.
Klitschko was the first to see himself on the mat, but he was able to recover from tasting canvas in the fifth to send Joshua to a first career knockdown a round later, although the Ukrainian veteran could not capitalise and the Brit was able to recover ahead of his late onslaught.
Klitschko appeared to have Joshua ready to go. The 27-year old champion admits he was very tired and felt the sting of Klitschko's punches, but managed to collect himself and battle back in the later rounds. He sent Klitschko down two more times in the eleventh, before battering the veteran against the ropes until the referee jumped in.
Though retirement may loom for the 41-year-old Klitschko, he referenced a rematch clause after the fight and Bernd Boente believes his man was not far away from regaining three of the prizes he lost to Tyson Fury in November 2015.
"It was a great fight from both sides," Boente said.
"For sure people are going to call it an instant classic when you review the fight in a couple of years and even already now.
"It was certainly one of the best heavyweight fights of the last 10-15 years.
"Wladimir almost had him in the sixth round. One or maybe two more punches would have been enough and the fight would have been decided in his favour.
"But, OK, Joshua showed that he can come back, as did Wladimir before. In the end you have to congratulate Joshua."