Boxing giant Wladimir Klitschko is seldom dwarfed by anything, but ahead of his heavyweight title defense against Bryant Jennings, another fight is stealing all the headlines.
The worldwide interest in next week's welterweight showdown between Filipino Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten US star Floyd Mayweather Jr. has turned Wladimir Klitschko's first US bout since 2008 into a bit of a forgotten sideshow.
His fight against American Bryant Jennings on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden isn't a sellout. In contrast, the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight sold out in seconds, and organizers have already started selling tickets to the weigh-in.
The contrasting fates of the two fights may have less to do with heightened interest in Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s marketing machine, and more to do with Klitschko's clear dominance of the heavyweight division.
Former heavyweight boxer George Foreman summed it up nicely when he said this week, "It doesn't seem like there is anyone around who can beat him. It's going to take someone very special to dethrone Klitschko."
But despite his ongoing success, the 39-year-old hasn't lost any of his hunger to compete, he says. Speaking ahead of the bout this week in New York, Klitschko seemed layed back about his further career.
"As long as I have motivation and health, I will do this," he said. "What could be cooler, or better, than to be the best man on the planet and beating up people for a living?"
A strong record
Klitschko has been on top of his weight class for nearly a decade since taking the WBO crown from Samuel Peter in 2005. He added the other titles during his current unbeaten run of 19 wins. Yet, many of his victories came against unimpressive opposition. There's a feeling ahead of his fight against former janitor Jennings, that it could be a very one-sided affair. But the underdog is sparring back, verbally at least.
"Look at my whole career, and you can take an experienced fighter and compare him to me," Jennings said, who has just 19 career wins, 10 of them via knockout.
"I think I'm better than the majority of experienced fighters. Some experienced fighters don't have half as much talent as me."
The trash-talking sound good, but can he really be a challenge to Klitschko in the ring? Should the Ukrainian win again, there's a growing call for him to take on undefeated Deontay Wilder, who owns the only belt not in Klitschko's collection, from the WBC.
al/jh (AFP, AP)