NEW YORK (AP) Wladimir Klitschko knows he has an image problem with fans in the United States, who for the most part pay the heavyweight champion little attention.
He wants to change that, though not at the expense of his decade-long winning streak or his collection of heavyweight titles.
"I understand the criticism that the fights are lopsided and kind of boring. I'm getting it," Klitschko said Monday. "But it's not so simple."
Not when Klitschko is matched up with the likes of Alex Leapai, whose only real claim to fame is that he's the WBO's mandatory No. 1 challenger. Klitschko will be an overwhelming favorite when he takes on Leapai, a native of Samoa who lives in Australia, on April 26 in in Oberhausen, Germany.
It will be the 25th heavyweight title bout for Klitschko, who has dominated most opponents with his size and reach. Once again, it will be outside the United States and in Germany, where the heavyweight is extremely popular.
"I'm missing the fans in the U.S.," Klitschko said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The fan base is huge here and I would love to fight back in the States."
Klitschko said that could happen after the Leapai fight, when he is expected to meet the winner of a planned fight between contenders Bermane Stiverne and Cristobal Arreola. That fight, which has yet to be signed, was ordered by the WBC for the title vacated by Klitschko's brother, Vitali, who resigned the belt to focus on leading the opposition political party in strife-torn Ukraine.
"I want to fight here but I need a broadcaster, either Showtime or HBO, and I need an arena," Klitschko said. "Of course I also need an opponent who is interesting to fans. I think the Arreola-Stiverne winner could be a good choice."
The 6-foot6, 245-pound Klitschko is coming off an easy win over Alexander Povetkin on Oct. 5 in Moscow, a fight where Povetkin was knocked down four times and didn't win a round. Klitschko was at his dominating best, but his cautious style doesn't make for action fights and doesn't win fans.
Klitschko, who has a home in Florida and also spends time in California, was in New York to attend the Super Bowl and draw attention to the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Western protesters have clashed with the government over the lack of democracy in the country.
Vitali Klitschko is a main opposition leader and announced presidential contender, who retired to devote himself to his native land.
"It's a critical situation that can change in the blink of an eye," said Klitschko, who was with his brother in Ukraine last week. "We don't have democracy and we definitely don't have a free press. I just hope the democracies of the world see what is going on."