Wladimir Klitschko has announced his retirement from boxing at the age of 41. The Ukranian took to Facebook to share an official statement regarding his decision to retire from the sport. In a video, which was posted in English, German, and Klitschko's native tongue Ukranian, the former heavyweight world champion explained why he's decided to hang up his gloves after 27 successful years as a boxer.
Klitschko revealed that while he was incredibly grateful for the countless opportunities his career choice, which he claims was "the best choice of a profession [he] could have made," has given him, the 41-year-old now believes that it is time for him to move on and prepare for the next chapter in his life and career. While Klitschko did not clarify what his next career move will be, he added that he hopes that this next step will be "at least as successful as the previous one, if not more successful." The Ukranian also thanked his fans for their continued support and loyalty over the years. Furthermore, he urged his fans to continue to follow him on his new journey, saying that as a united community they will be "more creative, more efficient, more productive, and simply stronger in every way."
"Twenty-seven years ago I started my journey in sport. It was the best choice of a profession I could have made. Because of this choice I have travelled the world, learned new languages, created business, built intellectual properties, helped people in need."
Klitschko last stepped into the boxing ring in April, where he faced off against British Boxer Anthony Joshua. In this match, which took place at Wembley Stadium in London, Klitschko was ultimately beaten and knocked out in the 11th round by Joshua, but not without putting up a good fight. The Ukranian even managed to knock down Joshua in the sixth round with a powerful right hook that sent the British fighter to the ground. According to BBC Sports, this was the first time in the 27-year-old's career that he was put down during a match. This is certainly an impressive feat by Klitschko, especially considering the age gap between the two fighters and the fact that Joshua remains undefeated in his 19-fight career to this day.
To the dismay of many boxing fans around the world, Klitschko's decision to retire means that there will no longer be a rematch between the two heavyweight fighters. Prior to Klitschko's announcement, it was widely speculated that he would face off against Joshua in a rematch, which would've taken place in Las Vegas this year. English boxing promoter Eddie Hearn even scheduled a rematch for November 11 and remained optimistic that Klitschko would accept the challenge, according to the Telegraph.
"I believe Wladimir Klitschko is going to take this fight and I really think Vegas will be the one," said Hearn. Now that Klitschko has officially announced his retirement, Hearn voiced his disappointment but also added that he was "happy for Wladimir."
With all that said, it remains to be seen what Wladimir Klitschko's next chapter will look like, but one thing seems certain: The Ukranian's legacy will be remembered within the boxing world for years to come.[Featured Image by Matt Dunham/AP Images]