The king of the heavyweight division is set to make his much-anticipated return to the United States.
Wladimir Klitschko, who has had some version of the heavyweight title since 2000, will defend his current collection of titles (WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO and The Ring Magazine) against Bryant Jennings on April 25 at Madison Square Garden.
Klitschko (65-3, 53 KOs) made his New York debut in 2000 with a second-round stoppage of David Bostice on the undercard of the Lennox Lewis-Michael Grant fight.
“It feels like the first time,” Klitschko, 38, said at last week’s news conference. “It feels so good to be back here. I had this feeling and excitement … to be at Madison Square Garden is a dream.
“It is a dream of every performer and entertainer, to perform in the main event at Madison Square Garden. This is the high stage of entertainment.”
Since his last fight in the U.S. (2008, also at MSG) Klitschko has fought in Germany and once in Russia, in front of large crowds in soccer-sized stadiums.
Still, the lure of fighting again at MSG is something that certainly intrigues Klitschko.
“I have a lot of connections to this city, I used to live here, I used to spend a lot of time here,” he said. “It puts a lot of responsibility as well for me to keep having the same level of performance that I have set up.
“I’ve learned a lot in the past years in facing different opponents.”
Klitschko has won 21 consecutive fights since being stopped by Lamon Brewster in 2004.
The man faced with the challenge of trying to derail the Klitschko train is Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs). The question facing Jennings is whether he’s ready for this level of opposition.
“He has the qualities of Rocky Balboa,” Klitschko said of Jennings.
Jennings is coming off of a split-decision victory over Mike Perez last July.
“History will definitely be made,” Jennings said. “This is going to end in a knockout, so it is either going to be me or him. … One of us is going to lose, but, guess what, I don’t think it is going to me.”