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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
W. Klitschko unlikely to fight at Barclays

By Michael Woods

He is the best-known heavyweight in the world.

Check that. Wladimir Klitschko and his brother Vitali are the best-known heavyweights in the world, because, to be honest, many casual sports fans can't differentiate between little brother Wladimir and big brother Vitali.

Wladimir, 35, defends the bulk of the belts out there on Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany, against a no-hoper named Jean-Marc Mormeck, a Frenchman who most recently fought in December 2010 and has somehow wrangled his way into a payday and a certain beating. On a conference call today to hype that bout, which will run on Epix (4:30 p.m. ET), Wlad (56-3, unbeaten since 2004 and gunning for his 50th KO) said he won't look past the 36-4 Frenchman, whom he noted looked slow and cruddy at a public workout.

If, as expected, Wlad achieves a win Saturday, he said he would like to fight in America, which he hasn't done since 2008, when he beat Sultan Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden. That'd be nice for U.S. fight fans -- and Wlad's rep. His past six fights have taken place in Germany, and if he scrapped in the States, that many more sports fans would be able to tell you which Klitschko is which. There is an immense Russian population in Brooklyn (I live a few minutes from the still-being-built Barclays Center in Fort Greene), so it'd make oodles of sense for the Kazakhstan-born Wlad to glove up at Barclays.

But it sounds like that won't happen.

Team Klitschko member Tom Loeffler said on the call that the Barclays folks reached out to Wlad about a fight, but that's a non-starter because Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions has sole rights to promote boxing in the building. No, Loeffler said, Team Klitschko isn't looking for any promotional partners. So Madison Square Garden is looking like a prime Plan B. Californian Cris Arreola, who took a beating from big bro Vitali in 2009 but is thinner and wiser now, could get the gig. Wlad's trainer, Manny Steward, also on the call, said a fight between Wladimir and WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin, a Russian, would do bang-up business in the States.

I know this is heresy to a businessman, but wouldn't it be a sweet gesture if Golden Boy gave Team Klitschko a pass and gave the OK to put a Wlad fight on at Barclays? Hey, I sort of get the Golden Boy angle, when I put on my Warren Buffet mask. You don't want to flood the market with boxing, other people's product, and thus threaten some of your own future gate. But possibly, maybe, wouldn't it help the sport as a whole, the brand of boxing, to get a hot heavyweight fight in Brooklyn, with so many Russians so close to the building? And sometimes gestures in and of themselves can be profitable unto themselves, apart from monetary ones. Hey, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. ...