If you like boxing, you’re going to enjoy the next two Saturdays. If you don’t like boxing, well, you should give the next two Saturdays a chance.
Wladimir Klitschko, 39, will defend his world heavyweight title against Bryant Jennings, 30, at Madison Square Garden this Saturday, while Floyd Mayweather, 38, and Manny Pacquiao, 36, will square off in “The Fight of the Century” at the MGM Grand next Saturday.
Klitschko (63-3, 53 KOs) hasn’t lost a fight since 2004. He has won 21 straight matches, including 17 title defenses. Jennings, meanwhile, is 19-0 with 10 KOs.
“He has an opportunity to go in there and give Klitschko trouble,” former world champion Evander Holyfield said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He (will) definitely have to be aggressive. He cannot wait on Klitschko. Klitschko is very rangy and a good straight puncher. So if he’s not able to get close to Klitschko, it’ll probably be a difficult fight for him.”
Saturday marks Klitschko’s first fight on American soil in more than seven years. Doug Gottlieb cannot remember a lesser-discussed heavyweight champion, especially one this dominant.
Holyfield feels it may have something to do with Klitschko’s nationality.
“I truly believe that it shouldn’t matter where the heavyweight champion of the world is from,” Holyfield said. “It just so happens he’s not from America. He is from Russia. So the thing is, if he’s going to be world renown – which he should be because he’s the heavyweight champion of the world – then he needs to go ahead and clean this division up and be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
Deontay Wilder, 29, is the current WBC titleholder. Wilder and Klitschko are expected to fight at some point in the future.
“You only got one belt to do it,” Holyfield said. “And so, it’d just be easy to go ahead and say, ‘Let me clean it up and put this stamp on this thing that I’m the best.’”
Looking ahead to next Saturday, Holyfield believes Mayweather/Pacquiao will be an instant classic – despite attempts by some to discredit the fighters, saying that they’re past their prime.
“People are looking for excuses to say the fight is not going to be a great fight,” Holyfield said. “These guys are capable. Pacquiao (57-5-2) has been knocked out, but he’s back up and he’s proven that he’s a good fighter. Mayweather is 47-0. There’s no doubt that both guys want to win. I think this fight is a great fight. I don’t think they would pay them that much money if they both couldn’t be legitimate fighters.”
The Pacquiao camp, in particular, feels Mayweather has been running from this fight for several years now. A lot of people may agree with that sentiment, but don’t expect Mayweather to get rattled by it.
“They’ve (done it) so long,” Holyfield said. “They realize (when it comes down to it), it’s those two who have to get in the ring. All the other people are going to hug and put you in the ring. If you win, they’re going to say, ‘We done it.’ If you lose, they’re going to say, ‘You lost.’ They’re accustomed to it. The boxers are accustomed to the (fight game).”
Holyfield expects an even fight. He believes Pacquiao will have to be aggressive and throw a lot of punches, while Mayweather needs to play defense, pop and move. Asked for a prediction, Holyfield declined.
“That’s the reason I’m going to the fight,” he said. “If I knew who was going to win, I could make a lot of money. But I don’t know.”