Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is coming back to New York -- Brooklyn to be exact.
Klitschko, whose 18th title defense will take place on April 25 in the second fight of his three-fight HBO contract, will fight at the Barclays Center in what will be the first heavyweight championship bout at the 2-year-old arena, which has already hosted more than a dozen fight cards.
Klitschko's opponent is not signed yet, but his team is far down the road in negotiations with unbeaten Philadelphia contender Bryant Jennings and the deal is expected to be wrapped in the next couple of weeks.
"The fight will be at the Barclays Center and we are very, very pleased," Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager, told ESPN.com on Wednesday night. "The contract is not signed yet but we have a handshake deal and we are getting everything finalized. It's a really good deal for both sides. We are all looking forward to a big event."
Boente said that if the deal with Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) is not finalized, Klitschko (63-3, 54 KOs) would still fight at the Barclays Center but against a different opponent.
Boente had also been in talks with the Barclays Center's rival New York arena, Madison Square Garden. Klitschko, who is from Ukraine but a huge star in Germany, where his fights usually take place, has not fought in the United States since unifying two belts with a one-sided decision victory against Sultan Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden in 2008.
Klitschko, however, has wanted to fight in New York again and the new deal with HBO, which began with his fifth-round knockout of Kubrat Pulev on Nov. 15 in Germany, made it more feasible.
"The Barclays offer was better (than Madison Square Garden's)," Boente said. "We really like the people at the Garden. I really like Joel Fisher (executive vice president of MSG Sports). We had fights with Wladimir and (older brother) Vitali there, but the overall cooperation is better with Barclays. They are putting huge marketing money into this and that is important."
Boente and Brett Yormark, the Barclays Center CEO, held talks about the arena hosting a Klitschko defense as the arena's first boxing event in 2012, but it fell through because, at the time, the arena had an exclusive deal with Golden Boy Promotions to put on boxing events and Klitschko was not interested in cutting it in when it had nothing to do with his career. Now that Golden Boy is no longer exclusive, Boente said he and Yormark made a deal.
"They really want to have this event. I had meetings with the Garden and Barclays and Brett really wanted a Klitschko fight," Boente said. "Remember, they wanted to open the arena with one of Wladimir's fights. We are really excited to go there. I've been through the whole arena. It's fantastic, a great arena. It's one the best arenas I've seen."
Klitschko typically trains in the Austrian mountains for his fights but Boente said that Klitschko, who resides in Hollywood, Florida, will train there, which will keep him closer to his fiancé, actress Hayden Panettiere, who gave birth to their first child, a girl named Kaya, on Dec. 9.
"A review on the year: The birth of my daughter, two successful championship defenses and many other achievements on the way," Klitschko wrote on his Instagram account on Monday. "It was a great year and I'm looking forward to 2015. I'm ready to take on new challenges!"
The fight will take place just days after Klitschko will have begun his 10th year with a world title, second-longest in heavyweight history. Klitschko, the lineal champion and owner of three major alphabet belts, began his second title reign by knocking out Chris Byrd in the seventh round on April 22, 2006 in Germany, and is chasing Joe Louis' all-time record of 11 years, 8 months, 8 days as heavyweight champion.
Klitschko's 17 consecutive title defenses are third-most in heavyweight history behind only Larry Holmes (20) and Louis (25, which is an all-time record for any weight class).