Wladimir Klitschko has announced his retirement from boxing, ending any speculation of a rematch with Anthony Joshua.
“As an amateur and a professional boxer, I have achieved everything I have dreamed of, and now I want to start my second career after sports,” Klitschko 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. Thanks to everyone who has always supported me, especially my family, my team, and my many fans.”
After capturing Olympic gold in 1996, Klitschko turned pro and overcame adversity early in his career to become one of the greatest heavyweight champions the sport has ever known. Following a stunning defeat against Ross Puritty in 1998, Klitschko defeated Chris Byrd by unanimous decision, in 2000, to claim the WBO World heavyweight title. Not only did Klitschko get the belt, but he also beat a fighter that previously defeated his older brother, Vitali. Six months prior, the elder Klitschko tore his rotator cuff late against Byrd, handing the win and the title to Byrd.
Despite the early success, Klitschko was rightly criticized for his lack of stamina. After a brutal loss to Corrie Sanders, the Ukrainian decided to make a change, and it turned out to be the best decision he ever made in hiring the late Emanuel Steward to be his trainer. Although Klitschko did lose their first fight together in brutal fashion to Lamon Brewster, in 2004, he went the next 11 years without a loss, and held three of the four world title belts until his stunning loss at the hands of Tyson Fury in November 2015.
It was such a shock, many people questioned whether Klitschko was “shot,” that his best days were behind him. Then, Klitschko surprised the boxing world once again when he announced his return against then-IBF World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KO’s).
At 41 years of age, Klitschko put on one of the finest performances of his career in one of the greatest heavyweight fights in modern memory, even dropping the younger champion with a massive right hand in the sixth round. However, Joshua, who was determined to vanquish the tag of inexperience, picked himself off the canvas, and battered Klitschko, winning by 11th round TKO. Klitschko said of the loss “In defeat, I achieved much greater success than I would have had I won.”
Not everyone gets a first chance, let alone a second chance at becoming a world champion boxer, and Klitschko exemplified that anything is possible. Although he went out with an L, he leaves the sport with a lot more R (respect).