Former champ Klitschko calls it a career at 41
He retires amid talk of a rematch with Joshua. He finishes 64-5 with 54 knockouts.
Wladimir Klitschko, the former heavyweight champion, announced his retirement Thursday, scuttling plans for an intriguing rematch with unbeaten, two-belt champion Anthony Joshua that appeared headed to Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 11.
The 41-year-old Klitschko, closing with a record of 64-5 with 54 knockouts, was a dominant champion during a reign from 2006 to 2015 that was second only to Joe Louis’ 11-plus years as champ in longevity, and Klitschko edged Louis by participating in 29 heavyweight title bouts to Louis’ 27.
The most recent, before more than 80,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium in April, was the best — a compelling battle against Joshua, the hometown 2012 Olympic champion.
Klitschko dropped Joshua in the sixth after Joshua knocked down Klitschko in the fifth, prompting a riveting bout to the finish, which came with Joshua battering Klitschko in the 11th round to win by technical knockout.
“I deliberately took a few weeks to make my decision, to make sure I had enough distance from the fight at Wembley Stadium,” Klitschko said in a statement.
“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.m´I very thankful for this. Thanks to everyone who has always supported me, especially my family, my team and my many fans.”
The Ukrainian kept a home in Los Angeles and is married to actress Hayden Panettiere. Because he was so dominant in the ring while the rest of the heavyweight division was slumping in the post-Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis era, Klitschko was unable to capture the attention those fighters attracted.
A 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Klitschko was champion from 2000 to 2003 and won every major belt except the World Boxing Council version, which his brother, Vitali, captured. They were both champions from 2008 to 2012.
Wladimir Klitschko was popular in Germany, where he staged several massive outdoor-stadium title defenses.
He declined to reveal his next endeavor, but he has been involved in several entrepreneurial undertakings during his boxing career. He spoke confidently with a smile to underline the conviction in his decision to leave the sport.
“Especially after this terrific fight at Wembley Stadium, it was a very tough decision for Wladimir to make,” his manager, Bernd Bonte, said in the announcement.
“But he has always emphasized that he wanted to retire if he didn’t have enough motivation anymore. Therefore, this is definitively the right decision.
“Wladimir accomplished everything in his unique boxing career. He dominated the heavyweight division for over a decade. He fought in soldout arenas and stadiums worldwide and millions of fans around the world watched his fights on TV. It has been a privilege for me to accompany Wladimir on this unique journey.”
In light of Klitschko’s retirement, the next opponent for Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) could be Kubrat Pulev, the International Boxing Federation’s mandatory challenger.
Pulev’s promoter, Kalle Sauerland, told Sky Sports in the United Kingdom that an ideal site would be the enclosed soccer stadium in Cardiff, Wales, likely in November.