A: Wladimir not being an American is not what has kept his popularity down in the U.S. What has hurt him has been his lack of visibility on U.S. television and the one-sidedness of his fights. Emanuel Steward told me a long time ago that Wladimir Klitschko is a great fighter. Steward said that Wladimir possesses more offensive tools than any fighter he has ever worked with. Wladimir wins and he wins easy and seemingly without much effort. I have a feeling he may finally have his defining match next year, against someone like Deontay Wilder, a big, strong puncher who actually out-sizes him. When he does, and if the fight becomes the first of a sequel, I think you'll see fans appreciate Wladimir even more. No matter what, his defining moment takes place soon against Alexander Povetkin. Even with his vast array of skills, I give Povetkin little chance of beating the younger Klitschko. Wladimir may just win so convincingly that we'll all come away shaking our heads, realizing that after all these years he wasn't just another heavyweight champion. We'll know he was a great heavyweight champion.
This week's title-fight schedule:
IBF junior middleweight title - Las Vegas, Nev.
Ishe Smith (champion) vs. Carlos Molina (No. 2 contender)
Smith (25-5, 11 KO): First title defense; Thirteenth fight in Las Vegas (12-0)
Molina (21-5-2, 6 KO): First title fight; Third fight in Las Vegas (1-0-1)
Fitzbitz says: "Hometown hero Smith is a sentimental favorite, while the rugged Molina has finally reached main stage after years of battling circumstance. The latter is due for a belt." Molina by decision
WBA/WBC super welterweight titles - Las Vegas, Nev.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (WBA champion) vs. Saul Alvarez (WBC champion)
Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO): First title defense; Twenty-second title fight in five divisions (21-0)
Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KO): Seventh title defense; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0)
Fitzbitz says: "Alvarez is a younger, bigger and stronger edition of the guy who's been groomed to defeat Mayweather for years, but has always failed. The result doesn't change here." Mayweather in 10
WBA/WBC super lightweight titles - Las Vegas, Nev.
Danny Garcia (WBA/WBC champion) vs. Lucas Matthysse (unranked)
Garcia (26-0, 16 KO): Fourth WBC/third WBA defense; Tenth fight in Las Vegas (9-0)
Matthysse (34-2, 32 KO): First title fight; Eleven straight wins by stoppage
Fitzbitz says: "The early impression at the Peterson fight was that Garcia looked a little unnerved by Matthysse. It says here that he's found a way to cope in the last four months." Garcia by decision
Last week's picks: 1-0
2013 picks record: 50-30 (62.5 percent)
Overall picks record: 513-182 (73.8 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.