By Barry Janoff
April 24, 2015: With talk about the upcoming welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Packquiao dominating the fight, sports and other worlds, it may seem to many that the bout between world heavyweight world champion Wladiimire Klitschko and challenger Bryant Jennings is akin to an undercard.
But not to Klitschko or Jennings.
"Fifteen years ago I fought on the Lennox Lewis–Michael Grant Undercard, my first appearance in Madison Square Garden and on HBO," Klitschko said during a media conference in Madison Square Garden. "Fifteen years later I am still around and I have beaten a lot of fighters in that time. Now it's Bryant Jennings."
Mayweather gets a multi-part series with Stephen A. Smith featured on ESPN. Pacquiao gets to appear in Foot Locker commercials.
Mayweather-Pacquio is expected to generate record buys and income when it is shown on PPV via HBO and Showtime.
Klitschko-Jennings will be shown live on HBO (10 PM ET).
The fact that 500 tickets to the Mayweather-Pacquiao May 2 fight went on sale to the public on April 23 (and sold in about 30-60 seconds) made headlines, as did a deal between Mayweather and FanDuel for the daily fantasy company to put its name on the boxer's trunks.
Tickets are still available to Klitschko-Jennings.
With two days until the Klitschko-Jennings bout, the boxing site at CBSSports.com had no stories on the fight, but did have wall-to-wall coverage regarding Mayweather-Pacquiao. NBC Sports site had stories on Mayweather-Pacquio and other boxing events, including its own Premier Boxing Series, but no stories on Klitschko-Jennings.
Of the ten lead stories on Fox Sports online boxing site, one was about Klitschko-Jennings (a Q&A), seven were about Mayweather-Pacquiao.
ESPN's boxing site has had the best Klitschko-Jennings coverage, including Q&A's with both men and several analysis stories.
But even here, ESPN is loaded with Mayweather-Pacquiao, all but putting Klitschko-Jennings in its shadow.
Klitschko has not, however, gone unnoticed.
Celebrity sites have Klitschko covered mainly because of his girlfriend, actress Hayden Panettiere, and their four-month-old daughter Kaya.
A Klitschko-Jennings press conference in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (Aproil 21) attracted about 100 journalists, which was followed by a media-invited workout on Wednesday at Jordan Brand's Terminal 23 on the west side of Manhattan.
“There is nothing like a heavyweight fight in the Garden," Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President of Madison Square Garden, said during the media conference. "There have been more than 30 title defenses here (but) nothing matches the kind of big event we are having on Saturday night. Wladimir Klitschko is without dispute the heavyweight champion compared to the men he fought and won against.”
Klitschko hasn’t lost since he faced Lamon Brewster in 2004. His overall record: 63-3, with 54 knockouts.
This fight will mark his first return to the U.S. since February, 2008 when he defeated Sultan Ibragimov in Madison Square Garden to unify the heavyweight titles. Jennings will be his 27th heavyweight world championship fight. He has been world champion for the second time since 2006 and is now second to the iconic Joe Louis as the longest reigning world champion in heavyweight history. This will be his 17th consecutive title defense, third behind Louis 925) and Larry Holmes (19).
Jennings record: 19 wins, 10 by KO and no defeats. His last two fights were victories against the undefeated Mike Perez and Artur Szpilka — both in Madison Square Garden.
"April 25th it’s going down. I don’t know what else to say," said the Philadelia native Jennins. ”April 25th is history for me, my team and Philadelphia.”
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