*I achieved all I wished to
Ukraine’s former heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko announced his retirement from boxing on Thursday.
Klitscko hangs up his gloves as one of the all-time greats of the ring after a nine-and-a-half year reign as heavyweight champion. The 41-year-old’s last fight was in April when he was stopped by Anthony Joshua in the 11th round of the WBA title fight at Wembley Stadium in London.
“I never thought I’d have such a long and incredibly successful boxing career, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” he told his fans in a statement.
“I have achieved everything I dreamed of and now I want to start my second career after sports,” said Klitschko.
His retirement dashes a mooted blockbuster re-match with Joshua possibly in Las Vegas in November.
Klitschko, who won super-heavyweight gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, held the unified title from 2006-2015 before losing to Tyson Fury in 2015.
He bows out with a record of 64 wins and five defeats.
For now, there is no reaction yet from the Anthony Joshua camp on the Klitschko retirement. It
was the final twist in the long goodbye from Wladimir Klitschko as the once great heavyweight scrapped the rematch on offer and a $30 million payday with Anthony Joshua under the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip and announced his retirement at the age of 41.
It means Joshua will now defend his International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association title belts against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, on a new date, in the UK.
Two world title belts were not enough to draw the Ukrainian back to the battle, the former world No 1 having achieved all he had “ever dreamed of” as a boxer. Impeccable timing from the champion who ranks in the top 10 heavyweights of all time, based on victories and longevity as the undisputed world No 1.