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30th Apr 2017

Wladimir Klitschko insists that rematch clause exists in contract after defeat to Anthony Joshua

He may well exercise that option

Darragh Murphy

Retirement surely can’t be all that far away for Wladimir Klitschko.

Defeated, and in comprehensive fashion too, in two consecutive fights for the first time in a 21-year fight career, the end simply must be near for ‘Dr. Steelhammer’.

Klitschko was put away in the eleventh round by Anthony Joshua on Saturday night, the first time that the Ukrainian had been stopped in 13 years.

A wily veteran who was once the most dominant force in boxing’s heavyweight division, Klitschko looked to have secured a firm hold on the contest after putting ‘AJ’ in trouble in the sixth round and working behind his jab for the rounds that followed.

But Joshua dug deep and swung for the fences in the penultimate round, forcing the referee to step in after dropping the 41-year-old twice midway through the frame.

In the immediate aftermath of the showdown, Joshua wasted no time in calling out Tyson Fury for an all-British clash with undefeated records and bragging rights on the line, as well as the little matter of a few world titles.

But when the question of what’s next was put to Klitschko, he insisted that a rematch clause existed in his bout agreement and that he may well exercise that option before hanging up his gloves for good.

“Of course, we have it in the contract, I’m right now interested,” Klitschko told Sky Sports of a potential rematch. “Analyse what the heck has happened.

“I did enjoy the night as well as you. I wish I would [have] raised my hand instead of being someone that didn’t make it and win the titles back.

“But congratulations to Anthony, he got up, he fought back, and he won the titles.”

There was mutual respect on show in the ring following the eleven-round war and Klitschko recognised the civil manner in which both men behaved in the run-up to the bout.

“I love you too guys. I hope you enjoyed the fight,” Klitschko said. “Both fighters were really giving their best.

“The best man won tonight and it’s an amazing event for boxing. Two gentlemen fought each other. I say gentlemen, because boxing came from England.

“Anthony was better today than I. It’s really sad that I didn’t make it tonight. I was planning to do it – it didn’t work – but all the respect to Anthony, congratulations.

“A lot of respect to you guys, 90,000 people present, you were awesome guys. Thank-you so much for your support to the sport and this fight.”

It should be pointed out that, in spite of Klitschko’s claims, the International Boxing Federation insisted that the talk of a rematch clause in the Joshua-Klitschko fight contract came as news to them.

“The IBF are not aware of any rematch clause for the Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko fight. We expect the winner of the April 29 unification to do the IBF mandatory next,” a statement from the IBF, released to World Boxing News, read.