Wladimir Klitschko's Dual Obsessions: Hayden Panettiere and David Haye

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Wladimir Klitschko's Dual Obsessions: Hayden Panettiere and David Haye
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Hayden Panettiere: one of the champ's two obsessions

IBF, IBO, WBO and The Ring magazine heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine is in love.

Klitschko, 34, recently told the Los Angeles Times that he has fallen for American actress Hayden Panettierre, 21.

When asked whether he is in love, Klitschko answered simply: "Yes, I am."

The heavyweight champ, however, doesn't want his relationship to be the path to greater recognition in the United States, where, unlike most of the rest of the world, he is not well known outside of hardcore boxing circles.

Klitschko has been spending a lot of time in Los Angeles, visiting restaurants and theatres with Panettiere, but says of greater American recognition, "I rely on my own performance to get there, not on gossip.

"It's all good with us, but I'd like to rely on my own performance to be noticed, not by who I'm with."

As ever, even when discussing his love life, the topic of Klitschko's other overriding obsession, WBA heavyweight champion David Haye of England, is never far away.

Haye, you may recall, mercilessly mocked and taunted both Wladimir and his brother, WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, only to engage in a now years-running game of hide-and-seek, signing and nearly-signing for fights with both brothers, only to disappear and then reappear later with even more trash talk.

Scott Heavey/Getty Images
The (super)fly in the ointment: WBA champion David Haye

Even though Wladimir has title fights lines up with another ornery Brit, Dereck Chisora, in April, and with top Polish challenger Tomasz Adamek in the fall, it is Haye, always Haye, who seems to be, along with Panettiere, on the champ's mind.

Wladimir tells the Times that he thinks Haye has been forced into check and is now cornered (then again, how many times did Wile E. Coyote think that about the Roadrunner?).

"I still believe the [Haye] fight will go on; I don't think he has anywhere else to go," Wladimir explains.  

"He'll run out of options."

At least until that day finally comes, Wladimir has some lovely company with whom to pass the time.

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