WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO refused to retire in the immediate aftermath of his punishing 11-round loss to Anthony Joshua, and will make a decision on his future in the coming weeks. The 41-year-old underdog looked to be on his way to an upset victory after taking control of the contest after being floored himself in round five.

The Ukrainian – who had been out of the ring since a surprise 2015 loss to Tyson Fury – was complimentary of his conqueror afterwards, but the regret was clear to see.

“‘AJ’ did a good job, he was trying, he was focused,” said Klitschko. “Even when he went down [from a right hand in round six] he got up. Maybe I could have done more when he got knocked down.

I didn’t think he was going to get up, but he got up, respect. I thought he was out of gas and concentration. But I could have done more. I was pretty sure it was my night so I took my time.”

Klitschko looked to be on his way out of the bout in the fifth – Joshua bullied him to the canvas and split his eyelid open in the process.

“I got caught and the blood streamed into my eye,” he recalled. “It was hard, I couldn’t see. I have always been a fan of his talent. I think he’s vulnerable, and that is something he will need to work on but you have to respect him today… He’s athletic like no other fighter, he has lots of punching power but not as much speed.”

Klitschko said he didn’t have an off night, and could improve if a sequel was made. For now, though, the old master should feel proud of the part he played in one of boxing history’s greatest heavyweight fights.

“I’m happy,” he said. “I end up fighting in front of a bigger crowd than before I lost [to Fury]. I think we both did great tonight and did a lot for the sport. It was a great night for boxing, a great night for the fans. I don’t feel like someone who lost, but I didn’t get the belts. But I don’t feel like I lost.”