On Saturday, May 4, in Mannheim, Germany, World Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will defend his Ring, lineal, IBF, WBO and WBA super titles against unbeaten Francesco Pianeta, an Italian native who has lived in Germany since age six.
I am in my early 40s, so just old enough to remember when the world heavyweight boxing title was known as the "the greatest championship in all of sports." The men who wore the belt were among the biggest sports stars of their day. When the belt was on the line, it was the top sports story of the week.
Well, the Klitschko-Pianeta fight will be a big deal in Germany. But on this side of the Atlantic, it won't even be the biggest story of the week in boxing. It will be greatly overshadowed by the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view and won't even be broadcast in the U.S.
I've faulted American fans in the past for not appreciating the Klitschko brothers, but this time around, Wladimir must take a big share of the blame for the apathy he is encountering from the U.S. market. In Pianeta, he's picked an opponent that few fans in the U.S. have ever heard of, and even fewer care about.