Wladimir Klitschko has retired from boxing, ending Anthony Joshua’s hopes of a Las Vegas rematch.
The Ukrainian lost to Joshua at Wembley in April after the Brit climbed off the canvas to knock out the ring legend in the penultimate round.
The rematch had been pencilled in for November 11 in Sin City but Joshua will now have to look elsewhere.
Klitschko confirmed the news with a statement on his website which initially crashed due to the huge volume of traffic.
It read: “I deliberately took a few weeks to make my decision, to make sure I had enough distance from the fight at Wembley Stadium.
“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.”
In a video posted on social media, he added: “Twenty seven years ago I started my journey in sport; it was the best decision I could have made.
“I’ve travelled the world, learned new languages, created businesses, built intellectual properties, helped people in need, become a scientist, entrepreneur, motivator, hotelier, trainer, investor and much more.
“I was and am still capable of doing all this because of the global appeal of boxing, my own talent and, most importantly, because of you, my loyal fans.
“At some point in our lives we need to, or want to, switch our careers and get ourselves ready for the next chapter. Obviously I am not an exception to this, now it is my turn.
“I’m doing this with the greatest of respect for the new challenges but also with tremendous excitement, passion, dedication, expectation and hoping that my next career, which I’ve been planning for several years, will be as successful, if not more, than my previous one.
“Instead of saying thanks and goodbye. I want you to continue to join me on this new and exciting journey. When we’re together, we are more creative, more efficient, more productive and simply stronger in every way. Together we are the driving force.”
Klitschko’s manager Bernd Bonte added: “Especially after this terrific fight at Wembley Stadium it was a very tough decision for Wladimir to make.
“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 sold-out 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.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said: “I heard the news this morning from Bernd Boente that Wladimir Klitschko has decided to retire from boxing. We wish him all the success.
“He was an incredible ambassador. He’s had a great career. It’s unusual to bow out on a loss.
“He earned more respect in his last fight than his whole career. It was a epic night and a driving factor.
“He is a nice man. He can leave this sport with healthy bank account, his health intact and a legacy throughout the sport after the fight at Wembley.”
Klitschko, 41, ruled the heavyweight division for close to 10 years before he lost to Tyson Fury in 2015.
He returned after an 18-month lay-off to face Joshua in front of 90,000 people at the national stadium.
Klitschko was knocked down in the fifth round but rallied to drop Joshua in the seventh.
But it was the Brit who prevailed in the 11th session.
Klitschko made his professional debut in 1996 and went on to fight 69 times, winning 64 of his bouts.
He won his first world title in 2000 when he outpointed Chris Byrd but lost it three years later when Corrie Sanders knocked him out in the second round.
Lamon Brewster inflicted a second defeat on Klitschko in 2004 which prompted him to seek out renowned trainer Emmanuel Steward.
He regained one portion of the world title in 2006 and went on to add the WBA and WBO belts to his IBF strap.
His brother Vitali completed the set by winning the WBC crown.
But Fury stunned the long-reigning champion in Germany two years ago to signal the beginning of the end.
The pair’s rematch was twice scheduled for 2016 – but on each occasion Fury pulled out.
That left Klitschko free to face Joshua – but he couldn’t quite pull off a dramatic victory.
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