Fi­nally re­spected, Kl­itschko an­nounces re­tire­ment

Weekend Mirror - - CHILDREN’S CORNER -

Wladimir

Kl­itschko ruled the heavy­weight scene with a steel glove for more than a decade yet it was a de­feat by An­thony Joshua which en­sured the Ukrainian re­tired on Thurs­day with the univer­sal re­spect that eluded him for so long.

Of­ten den­i­grated for a robotic style, short on flair, Kl­itschko reigned supreme in a heavy­weight era suf­fer­ing from a dearth of box of­fice names.

The 41- year- old dis­patched a reg­u­lar sup­ply of av­er­age fight­ers to reach 64 ca­reer vic­to­ries yet few, if any of them, will fea­ture in a showreel of the sport’s great­est con­tests.

In­stead it will be his fi­nal fight, against Bri­tain’s Joshua, that will be de­fine Kl­itschko’s legacy.

De­spite a 14- year age gap and fight­ing in front of a par­ti­san 90,000 Wem­b­ley Sta­dium crowd, Kl­itschko pro­duced ar­guably his best per­for­mance be­fore be­ing stopped in the 11th round of a sen­sa­tional fight.

Had he fin­ished off a wob­bling Joshua in the sixth round Kl­itschko would have be­come only the sec­ond fighter after Ge­orge Fore- man to win a recog­nised ver­sion of the world ti­tle as a 40-some­thing.

Yet, even in de­feat, a global au­di­ence fi­nally gave the Ger­many-based fighter the ac­claim he de­served for a ca­reer in which he car­ried the a sport so of­ten dragged into the gut­ter with pro­fes­sion­al­ism and dig­nity.

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