Wladimir Klitschko has announced his retirement from boxing, ending talk of a rematch with heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua.
Former world champion Klitschko, 41, was knocked out by Briton Joshua in the 11th round of their Wembley Stadium fight in April. He finishes his career with 64 professional wins and five defeats from his 69 bouts.
The Ukrainian had been considering a lucrative November rematch with Joshua, proposed to take place in Las Vegas, but a statement released on his official website Thursday instead confirmed retirement with immediate effect.
It read: “I deliberately took a few weeks to make my decision, to make sure I had enough distance from the fight at Wembley Stadium. As an amateur and a professional boxer, I have achieved everything I dreamed of, and now I want to start my second career after sports.
“I would have never imagined that I would have such a long and incredibly successful boxing career. I’m very thankful for this. Thanks to everyone who has always supported me. Especially my family, my team and my many fans.”
Joshua is likely to instead fight mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, of Bulgaria, while Klitschko ensures his legacy remains intact as one of the finest heavyweights in history.
After an unbeaten run that lasted 11 years, Klitschko lost his final two fights, conceding his IBF, WBA and WBO titles when being outpointed by Tyson Fury, before he was stopped by Joshua in London.
Even in the second of those defeats, the Ukrainian recovered from a fifth-round knockdown to heavily drop Joshua for the first time in his professional career.
That final fight — he has chosen not to exercise his rematch clause — was widely considered the most entertaining at heavyweight since the glamour era of the 1990s, and was also perhaps the biggest since Lennox Lewis overcame Mike Tyson in 2002.
Klitschko’s manager Bernd Bonte claimed his fighter had made the right decision to hang up the gloves.
“Especially after this terrific fight at Wembley Stadium it was a very tough decision for Wladimir to make,” Bonte added. “But he has always emphasised that he wanted to retire if he didn’t have enough motivation anymore. Therefore this is definitively the right decision.
“Wladimir accomplished everything in his unique boxing career. He dominated the heavyweight division for over a decade. He fought in sold-out arenas and stadiums worldwide and millions of fans around the world watched his fights on TV. It has been a privilege for me to accompany Wladimir on this unique journey.”
While at his peak, around the time of his one-sided, 2011 victory over David Haye, Klitschko held three of the four world heavyweight titles, at a time when his older brother Vitali was the WBC champion.
He also worked with the late Manny Steward, then widely considered the world’s finest trainer.