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.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lance Pug­mire lance.pug­mire@la­times.com Twitter: @la­time­spug­mire

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.

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