Wladimir Klitschko has announced his retirement from boxing on Thursday, ending an histonric 21-year professional career.
Two-time heavyweight champion Klitschko, who competed in more worldheavyweight title bouts than anyone, lost his final bout to IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua by 11th round TKO, in what was an epic battle against the undefeated Englishman in front of a crowd of 90,000 at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London.
It was Klitschko’s second consecutive defeat after losing his WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight titles on points to Tyson Fury, ending his second title reign at 9 years, 7 months and 7 days, the second-longest in heavyweight history behind only Joe Louis at 11 years, 8 months and 8 days.
Klitschko looked set to exercise his contractual right to a rematch against Joshua, with both teams making plans for a bout on November 11 in Las Vegas. However, Klitschko has now decided to retire from the sport.
“I deliberately took a few weeks to make my decision, to make sure I had enough distance from the fight at Wembley Stadium,” said Klitschko. “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.”
Klitschko, Known as “Dr. Steelhammer”, won his first world title with a one-sided decision over Chris Byrd in October 2000 and defended the WBO belt five times before a shocking second round knockout loss to big puncher Corrie Sanders in 2003.
The Ukrainian soon regrouped and rebuilt under his new trainer, the late, great Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward and he went 11 years without defeat, beating the likes of David Haye, Alexander Povetkin, Ruslan Chagaev, Samuel Peter, and Kubrat Pulev.
After Steward’s death in 2012, Klitschko replaced him with former sparring partner Johnathon Banks and he continued to dominate the division.
Klitschko has a pro record of 64 wins, with 53 knockouts, and five losses.
“27 years ago I started my journey in sports and it was the best choice of a professional I could have ever made,” said Klitschko.
“Because of this choice, I’ve travelled the world, learned new languages, created businesses, built intellectual properties, helped people in need, became a scientist, entrepreneur, motivator, hotelier, trainer, investor and much else.
“I was and am still capable of doing all this because of the global appeal of the sport of boxing.
“At some point in our lives we need to, or just want to, switch our careers and get ourselves ready for the next chapter.
“I’m not an exception to this and now is my turn. I’m honestly doing this with the greatest respect for the new challenges, but also with tremendous excitement, passion, dedication expecting and hoping that my next career, which I’ve already been planning and working on for some years, will be at least as successful as my previous one.
“Finally, instead of just saying thanks and goodbye, I want you to continue to join me in this new and exciting journey. When we’re together we’re more creative, more efficient, more productive and simply stronger in every way. Together we’re the driving force.”