BERLIN • Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has announced his immediate retirement from boxing.
The 41-year-old had been considering a lucrative rematch with Briton Anthony Joshua but decided to bow out after April's dramatic defeat by the IBF (International Boxing Federation) and WBA (World Boxing Association) champion.
Joshua is likely to fight mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria instead, while Klitschko ensures his legacy remains intact as one of the finest heavyweights in history.
Klitschko said yesterday: "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 dreamt of, and now I want to start my second career after sports.
"At some point in our lives we just want to switch our careers and get ourselves ready for the next chapter and fresh challenges.
"I'm doing this with tremendous excitement, dedication and passion. I'm expecting and hoping that my next career, which I've already been planning and working on for some years, will be at least as successful as my previous one, if not more successful."
He will now turn his attention to the hotel industry. He is involved in a chain of luxury hotels - 11 Mirrors - in Ukraine.
After an unbeaten run that lasted 11 years, he lost his final two fights - conceding his IBF, WBA and WBO (World Boxing Organization) titles - when he lost on points against Tyson Fury and lost to Joshua in the 11th round at Wembley.
Even in the second of those defeats, the Ukrainian, written off as boring for much of his career, recovered from a fifth-round knockdown to drop Joshua for the first time in the 27-year-old's professional career. That final fight - he has chosen not to exercise his rematch clause - was widely considered the most entertaining at heavyweight since the glamour era of the 1990s, and was also perhaps the biggest since Lennox Lewis overcame Mike Tyson in 2002.
Klitschko bows out with a record of 64 wins, including 53 knockouts, and five defeats.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON