Wladimir Klitschko has announced his shock retirement from boxing putting an end to a rematch against heavyweight world champion, Anthony Joshua.
Klitschko, 41, was set to take on Nigerian-born Joshua in November in a rematch of their heavyweight epic in April, but that 11-round bloodfest will now be the last of the Ukrainian’s professional fight as he decided to bring down the curtain on his illustrious 21-year career.
The Ukrainian hard-hitter won 64 of his 69 fights, and bows out as one of the sport’s true greats having held the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles, as well as the lineal crown.
In a statement Thursday, Klitschko, said it was a deliberate decision, as he thanked his fans for their support down the years.
“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 released on his website.
“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. I’m very thankful for this. Thanks to everyone who has always supported me. Especially my family, my team and my many fans.”
Following Klitschko’s shock retirement, Joshua is now expected to fight Kubrat Pulev as his mandatory IBF challenger, or risk being stripped of the world championship.