Wladimir Klitschko has announced his immediate retirement, ending Anthony Joshua’s hopes of a rematch in Las Vegas on November 11.
The 41-year-old former world heavyweight champion had been Joshua’s preferred opponent for his next title defence but he has instead chosen to bow out on April’s dramatic defeat by the reigning IBF and WBA champion.
Joshua is therefore expected to fight mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, of Bulgaria, either at Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on the same date or at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on October 28, and does so having been Klitschko’s final opponent.
The Ukrainian proved himself the finest heavyweight of his era, during which he won every fight for 11 years and earnt the IBF, WBA and WBO titles amid 18 consecutive defences before his 2015 defeat by Tyson Fury.
“I have achieved everything I dreamed of, and now I want to start my second career after sports,” he said in a statement. “I would have never imagined that I would have such a long and incredibly successful boxing career. I’m very thankful for this.
“I deliberately took a few weeks to make my decision, to make sure I had enough distance from the fight at Wembley Stadium.
“It was the best choice of a profession I could have made.
“At some point in our lives, we need to or just want to switch our careers and get ourselves ready for the next chapter. Now it’s my turn.
“Thanks to everyone who has always supported me. Especially my family, my team and my many fans.”
Speaking immediately after the Joshua defeat, Klitschko said he would consider his future and that the only fight that could tempt him to continue would be a rematch.
In the build-up to April’s fight his trainer Johnathon Banks also said that if he felt his fighter was no longer able to perform at the level he long had he would encourage him to retire.
“Especially after this terrific fight at Wembley Stadium it was a very tough decision for Wladimir to make,” said his manager Bernd Bonte.
“But he has always emphasised that he wanted to retire if he didn’t have enough motivation anymore.
Therefore this is definitively the right decision for him.”