Building a historic streak of title defenses in Germany provided Wladimir Klitschko a solid home base for his fights. Although Klitschko resides part of the year in Hollywood, the heavyweight champion and Ukraine native has found comfort, satisfaction and success across the Atlantic.
Klitschko de-prioritized the need to defend or unify belts in the United States, traditionally considered the domain of heavyweight boxing.
For Klitschko, the long absence from U.S. arenas will finally end on April 25. Klitschko will defend his four sanctioning body titles against Bryant Jennings at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight will be Klitschko’s first in the United States since his lopsided decision win against Sultan Ibragimov in February 2008, also at Madison Square Garden.
“Right event, right venue and right city,” Klitschko said last week in New York during a news conference that officially announced the bout. “I fought here for the first time 15 years ago and I’m so happy to come back here and fight.”
With his professional career now entering its 20th year, Klitschko, 38, looks to extend a second title reign that began in 2006. After dethroning former champion Chris Byrd, Klitschko (63-3, 53 KOs) has made 17 successful defenses, trailing only Joe Louis and Larry Holmes in heavyweight history. Klitschko’s yearly run as champion is second to Louis’ 12-year reign.
Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs), of Philadelphia, will attempt to become the second American to capture a heavyweight title within four months. The United States lacked a heavyweight champion since 2006 until Deontay Wilder ended the drought after his victory over Bermane Stiverne for a sanctioning body belt Jan. 17.
AROUND THE RING
▪ The USA Knockouts will face the Azerbaijan Baku Fires in their next World Series of Boxing match Saturday night at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming.
The WSB format features five bouts in the light-flyweight, bantamweight, light-welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight divisions. Fighters in the 16-team WSB retain their Olympic eligibility and can qualify for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Saturday’s match is the second local appearance by the Knockouts this season. The Knockouts defeated the Italia Thunder, 3-2, at Miccosukee on Jan. 24.
▪ Miami resident Ahmed Elbiali remained unbeaten after his second-round TKO win over Dustin Echard in their cruiserweight bout Friday night in Biloxi, Mississippi. Elbiali, a Krop High graduate and senior-year student at FIU, has started his professional career with nine consecutive victories by knockout.
Meanwhile, fellow Miami resident Humberto Savigne will appear on a Showtime-televised card Feb. 20. Savigne (12-1, 9 KOs, 1 NC) will face Craig Baker (15-0, 11 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round light-heavyweight bout in Pittsburgh.
▪ Florida Boxing Hall of Fame member Steve Canton, whose passion for the sport has included ventures in promoting, training, officiating and overseeing an amateur program in Fort Myers, now can add author to his experiences.
Tributes, Memories and Observation of the Sweet Science is Canton’s literary collaboration, detailing his lengthy involvement in boxing. The 359-page book, which devotes sections not only to the sport’s greatest fighters and personalities but to the forgotten undercard performers, recently became available on Amazon.com.
Friday (9 p.m., ESPN2): Cleotis Pendarvis vs. Ricardo Pinell, 6, junior middleweights.
Saturday (8 p.m., at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming, 500 S.W. 177 Ave., Miami): World Series of Boxing match between the USA Knockouts and Azerbaijan Baku Fires, $15 adults and $10 children under 12; 305-222-4600.
Saturday (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network): Derric Rossy vs. Akhror Muralimov, 12, light heavyweights.