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Wladimir Klitschko in love, but not with David Haye

February 2, 2011 | 11:43 am

Klt The guy has to do something to raise his U.S. profile, and dating a television star is a start.

World heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko has been spotted by People magazine lounging on the beach and attending the Golden Globes with "Heroes" star Hayden Panettiere, spending the last month-plus in Los Angeles as he prepares for a busy year of fighting.

In a Wednesday telephone conversation with The Times, Klitschko, 34, said he and Panettiere have enjoyed dining and taking in shows in Hollywood, downplaying the connection at first -- "that's an old story" -- but when he was asked if he was in love, he answered, "Yes, I am."

Inspired to join the A-list?

"As heavyweight champion of the world, I think it's automatic that I'm already there, right?" Klitschko asked.


"I rely on my own performance to get there, not on gossip," he said. "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."

Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) would like that notoriety to include a July 2 bout against Britain's World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion David Haye, but Haye balked at fighting Klitschko after the Ukrainian accepted an April 30 tune-up fight against Dereck Chisora in Mannheim, Germany.

Haye's promoter said Haye was unwilling to wait for a July bout in either the U.K. or Germany and risk a further delay if Klitschko is injured in the April 30 bout.

"I still believe the [Haye] fight will go on; I don't think he has anywhere else to go," Klitschko said. "I don't know where he'll go. He'll run out of options."

First things first. Klitschko said HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg has expressed interest in airing the Chisora (14-0, 9 KOs) fight after losing the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight to Showtime pay-per-view a week later.

Klitschko said fans will enjoy Chisora's attitude. He's bit two people in the ring and kissed another fighter at a news event. "I'll probably knock out his tooth if he tries that with me," Klitschko said.

As for the HBO interest after the premium network previously stopped showing Wladimir and his brother, Vitali, Wladimir said, "They're running out of exciting fights after losing Pacquiao. We'll see what happens."

Then, a Haye bout?

"I don't really trust the guy," Klitschko said. "The ball is on his side of the court. He's known as a liar. He's promised a lot. He talks about a legacy, but there's no legacy as a cruiserweight. He needs to fight me."

If Haye doesn't happen, Klitschko said he will fight Poland's former world cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek in September at a new soccer stadium in Poland. If Klitschko-Haye gets made, then it'll be WBC champion Vitali vs. Adamek.

"We're a team," WBO and IBF champion Wladimir said of his brother. "We'll unify all the heavyweight titles under our family's name and that's our goal for this year."

Klitschko invited his Southland fans to come watch him fight overseas.

"My brother had a day named after him on the official Los Angeles calendar; we both live out here a bit and my girlfriend's from here," he said. 

--Lance Pugmire

Photo: Hayden Panettiere and heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko attend HBO's Post 2011 Golden Globe Awards Party on January 16. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images.