Who will Fury fight next?
The new most-wanted man in boxing has a long list of potential opponents, but who will be next to take on Tyson Fury?Peter Iantorno December 7, 2015
For more than a decade, one man has called all the shots in heavyweight boxing: Wladimir Klitschko.
The 39-year-old holder of the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles was renowned not only for being one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time, but also for being one of the toughest to negotiate with – whoever wanted to fight him, it was always on Klitschko’s terms.
However, after the Ukrainian had his titles snatched from him by Tyson Fury at the end of November, suddenly all the power was transferred to the hands of the new champion.
After bowing to all of Klitschko’s demands to get his shot at the title, now the undefeated Brit has a long line of potential opponents all eager for their shot at his titles. While it seems likely that there’ll be a rematch with Klitschko in 2016, a curveball from the IBF means that Fury’s next opponent is still uncertain.
The red hot favourite to face Fury next is former champion Klitschko. As part of a the extensive conditions for facing Fury initially, the Klitschko camp insisted on a rematch clause, should the Ukrainian lose the fight.
“I will be making use of my contractual option for a rematch against Fury,” said Klitschko in a video posted to his official Instagram account last week. “So to say the fight of 2016 is in the making. Failure is not an option."
And it seems like the Fury camp is happy to fulfill the contractual obligation for a rematch too. "We're definitely looking for a stoppage next time out,” said Tyson’s uncle Peter Fury when asked about the rematch. "We're looking at Wembley Stadium in London, possibly mid-to-late May.”
So, ostensibly Fury versus Klitschko seems to be a done deal, however, a recent statement from IBF chairman Lindsey Tucker threw the fight into doubt. "To be clear, Tyson Fury must fight Vyacheslav Glazkov next,” he said. "Regarding the Klitschko rematch taking precedence, it's just the opposite as the mandatory takes priority of the rematch.”
As a first title defence there’s no doubt that a match with Glazkov is far less appealing than a second encounter with his fellow Ukrainian Klitschko, but the prospect of being stripped of the IBF title for not facing the mandatory challenger is surely something that Fury will want to avoid.
While his uncle Peter responded in a bullish manner – “If they want to take the belt from us in such pathetic and disgusting circumstances, that will result in a public and embarrassing display for the IBF. That's for sure,” he said – don’t be surprised if Fury bows to the pressure to keep all his titles.
Who it won’t be…
Unsurprisingly, after Fury ended Klitschko’s decade of dominance in the heavyweight division, a string of pretenders have emerged, all intent on taking on the new champ. However, despite what they might say, these guys have got no hope of facing Fury next.
While Fury now holds three of the four recognised heavyweight titles, the fourth belongs to Deontay Wilder, and the American has made no secret of his desire to set up a fight with Fury and unify the titles.
"I want that fight to happen as soon as possible," he said. "I've got to fight someone in January and after that fight I would love to have a unification bout – and guess what, I wouldn't mind coming to the UK for that one.”
However, it seems that even though the prospect of becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis must be tempting, a match with Wilder is not on Fury’s radar.
“Why do we need to mention Deontay Wilder?” the champion asked after his victory over Klitschko. “Let's laugh at his name, shall we? Why would I be bothered about a novice like Wilder? He's a basketball player who took up boxing a couple of years ago. I'm a true natural fighter."
A man who is regarded by many as the future world heavyweight champion, undefeated Brit Anthony Joshua has had his name bandied around for a potential shot at the new champion. However, even he admits that Fury's first title defence will probably come to soon for him.
“Fury has been pro for eight years, I’ve been a pro for two, and I’ve got to fight for the British belt first, but I’d fight for that world belt 100 per cent, even if it was next year,” he said.
“People want to see us fight – champion or no champion. Even though I am not at that top level yet, that fight will be fast-tracked – sooner rather than later.”
Former heavyweight champion David Haye announced a couple of weeks ago that he would be returning to the ring after more than two years in retirement.
The now-35-year-old was set to fight Fury twice during his career but pulled out both times and talk of a potential grudge match was rife following Fury’s win over Klitschko. However, unfortunately for Haye, Fury is unwilling to forgive him for the cancelled fights and adamant that the two will never meet.
"Absolutely point-blank, I will say Haye will never get a chance after what he did to me," Fury said. "I will never give him a pay day. He is getting no opportunities from us. He is a pretender, a fraud."