WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO has announced his immediate retirement from boxing.
The 41-year-old former world heavyweight champion had been considering a lucrative rematch with Anthony Joshua but instead will bow out on April’s dramatic defeat by the IBF and WBA champion.
Joshua is likely to instead fight mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, of Bulgaria, while Klitschko ensures his legacy remains in tact as one of the finest heavyweights in history.
Klitschko said: “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.”
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, while he was stopped by Joshua in the 11th round at Wembley.
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.