Boxing ambassador Wladimir Klitschko has decided to retire from boxing at the age of 41 almost 21 years after making his professional debut.
Klitschko heads into civilisation with a boxing record consisting of 64 wins and 5 losses, with a grand total of 29 world title fights to his credit thrown in for good measure.
A quite superb career in the sport came to prominence at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 with a gold medal victory before Klitschko entered the paid ranks a few months later.
‘Dr. Steelhammer’ quickly complied a record of early knockout wins over a two-year period before a shock first defeat at the hands of Ross Purrity in 1998.
Dusting himself down, Klitschko returned to the drawing board before targeting the European title, which he claimed in 1999 and successfully defended in the same year. With a world title shot around the corner, Klitschko won his next three fights via stoppage before successfully challenging Chris Byrd for the WBO championship in October 2000.
Fleeting previous appearance in United States soil, coupled with the fascination of Americans to have the top division champ from their shores, meant Klitschko and his brother Vitali were becoming more in demand stateside, but it was Wladimir who was looked at as the softer option for the top contenders.
A tendency to engage when under fire himself left Klitschko vulnerable at times, and so it proved when South African puncher Corrie Sanders earned his opportunity in Germany in 2003. A crushing knockout had Klitschko’s reputation dented again, although worse was to come some thirteen months later.
Defeat this time in front of the American audiences against Lamont Brewster saw Klitschko’s world come crashing down and led to the link-up that would change his life forever.
In came legendary trainer Emanuel Steward, and just six months later, Kltischko was back on the scene of the Brewster loss in Las Vegas looking far more assured under the guidance of the Kronk man.
Just two more victories behind him and Klitschko was once against facing Byrd for a world title, but this time put him away in seven rounds after previously going the full distance with the two-belt champion.
With the IBF and IBO titles in his possession and Steward pulling the strings, Kltischko would be an unbeatable force until his trainer’s untimely death in 2012. Frailties then began creeping in as Klitschko aged and eventually led to losses against Briton’s Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua later in his career.
A legend in his own right, and the model professional, Klitschko should be fondly remembered for his reign as an all-conquering ruler of the heavyweights, and alongside his brother will be firm members of the Boxing Hall of Fame eternity.
WBN wishes Wladimir well in his retirement.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay