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03rd Aug 2017

Anthony Joshua’s next opponent revealed after Wladimir Klitschko retires

"Part of me is quite pleased that we can draw a line under this and move on"

Robert Redmond

Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Wladimir Klitschko is off, after the Ukrainian announced his retirement.

Joshua stopped Klitschko in the 11th round of their epic heavyweight bout back in April at Wembley Stadium, and they were due to fight again in Las Vegas on November 11.

However, it emerged on Thursday morning that the 41-year-old had decided to walk away from boxing after 21 years as a professional.

The Ukrainian dominated the heavyweight division for the best part of a decade, and retires with a record of 64 wins in 69 bouts, 53 by KO and five losses.

Klitschko’s statement announcing his retirement 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.”

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, was on Sky Sports News on Thursday morning, and praised Klitschko, explaining how he learned of the decision.

“I got the text very early this morning… and that’s it, he’s done. Whether or not he had gone into training camp and found he didn’t have the desire to do it anymore – it was a very tough fight, his last one – but I wish him absolutely all the success in the world. He’s been incredible and he’s had an exceptional career.”

Hearn also revealed Joshua’s most likely next opponent, now that Klitschko has retired. The 27-year-old is expected to step into the ring with Kubrat Pulev, the mandatory IBF challenger.

“We’ve got the mandatory challenger now, Kubrat Pulev. He is the number one challenger with the IBF. When the IBF cleared the Klitschko rematch, it was under the provision that if it was not Klitschko [next] it must be Pulev,” Hearn said.

“We’ve already got talks in place with Kalle Sauerland, his promoter. Part of me is quite pleased that we can draw a line under this and move on. I think fight fans are going to see an announcement sooner than they would have with a Klitschko fight. We can move on with a mandatory challenger and look towards more belts in the division.”

The 36-year-old Bulgarian has a record of 25 wins in 26 bouts, 13 by KO, and has suffered one loss. The fight could take place in Cardiff, which was mooted as a venue for Joshua’s rematch with Klitschko.