WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO joked he let Anthony Joshua beat him because he "felt sorry for the little guy" as he paid tribute three years on from their legendary fight.
The pair were involved in a modern classic three years ago today, the night Joshua picked himself up off the canvas before knocking Klitschko out in round 11.
They remain good friends today with AJ often seeking advice from the legendary Ukrainian.
But it did not stop 43-year-old Klitschko from aiming a friendly dig at the current unified champion, as he tweeted: "3 years ago today, I let @anthonyfjoshua win.
"Felt sorry for the little guy, lol. Joke. Great Champion, classic fight, we both grew tremendously since this match. Thanks fans for supporting both of us!"
Joshua, 30, found himself on the brink of defeat just a round after he floored Klitschko.
Klitschko then dropped AJ with a thudding right hand in the sixth but on the advice of his brother Vitali he held back from going for the stoppage, instead reserving energy.
After Joshua recovered and later ended the fight himself, former champion and now politician Vitali took the blame for defeat.
But Klitschko's trainer Johnathon Banks does not blame the 48-year-old as he believes brotherly love can sometimes prove too strong.
Banks told Sky Sports: “I understood Vitali say that in Russian. I jumped up! The security guards told me to sit down but I was shouting: ‘Finish him, finish him!’
“I knew Vitali’s voice would reign supreme over mine. I tried my best to override.
“I’ve got brothers too and we’re very close. If someone questions my brother, my initial thought is to defend my brother. I accept it and we move on.
“You’ve got to understand that to Vitali, it wasn’t a mistake. His job is to protect his little brother. His emotion clouded the business.”
Despite the option of a rematch in America, Wladimir opted against Part II and retired from boxing.
Joshua of course went on to pick up another world title belt when he outpointed Joseph Parker, before shockingly losing them all to Andy Ruiz Jr last June.
He did easily outpoint the Mexican-American in a rematch six months later, and now wants to unify the titles against Tyson Fury.
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