Fury to return on Feb. 28; Wilder picks Klitschko to beat Jennings
Undefeated British heavyweight Tyson Fury, the mandatory challenger to RING champion Wladimir Klitschko’s WBO belt, will headline a Feb. 28 card against an opponent to be determined at the O2 Arena in London, promoter Frank Warren announced on Wednesday.
Fury (23-0, 17 knockouts) is coming off last month’s 10th-round stoppage in a rematch against countryman Dereck Chisora, whom Fury had vanquished by unanimous decision in July 2011 when the fighters entered the bout with identical 14-0 records.
“It’s great to have my first fight of the year up and announced so now I can go away, have a break over Christmas and then get back in the gym with a goal to aim for. When I haven’t got a fight lined up, I find it hard to concentrate,” said Fury, 26, who took Chisora’s European title and also won the vacant British title for a second time.
“I need that focus to aim toward and at least I know I’m fighting on Feb. 28. I’ve got the WBO world title fight next. I’ll have my opponent confirmed shortly and then I’ll let my trainer and uncle, Peter [Fury] get on with setting up the training camp and fight plans. The win against Chisora was very satisfying because I showed that I’m not just a crash-bang-wallop fighter. I can box clever and take someone apart clinically.”
Also the holder the IBF and WBA titles, Klitschko (63-3, 53 KOs) is considering an April 25 defense against Bryant Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) potentially in New York, Jennings’ promoter, Gary Shaw informed RingTV.com.
“I’m now the mandatory challenger to Klitschko and there’s no way he can dodge me. He can either vacate the title or defend the title against me. Either way, I’m going to fight for the world title this summer. Klitschko can have his fight in March but then he knows he’s got me next,” said Fury.
“He’s run from me for the last two years and now knows that I’m reality and I’m next. He can be a fighting man and show the world he’s not scared by defending his title against me or prove what I’ve been saying about him for the last few years by vacating the title without fighting me. Ideally I want to fight the man who is holding the belt, the champion, this so-called great Wladimir Klitschko. I don’t want the vacant belt; I want Klitschko.”
Warren said he once contacted the Klitschko camp in an attempt to make a fight between Fury and Klitschko for March but that he did not hear from Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente.
“I emailed Klitschko’s business manager, Bernd Boente, to try and cut through all the tape and make the fight for March but I’ve not had a response back from them yet. That’s fine but they’ll have to sit down and negotiate after Klitschko has had his fight or we can go to purse bids. Either way, Fury’s going to fight for the world title this year. We’ll have Tyson’s opponent confirmed shortly,” said Warren.
“But the main thing is that [Fury] keeps busy as he’s only fought twice in a year-and-a-half and this next fight will keep him active before he fights again in the summer. Tyson is the mandatory challenger to Klitschko and it’s a position we want to preserve. Klitschko is the long-reigning champion, the guy who holds all the belts and ideally we want him to defend the title against Tyson.”
Jennings, 30, a Philadelphia native who is THE RING’s No. 5-rated heavyweight, is the mandatory challenger to the winner between RING No. 2-rated WBC titleholder Bermane Stiverne and RING No. 6-rated Deontay Wilder. Stiverne-Wilder is scheduled to be hosted at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Jan. 17.
“Obviously Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder fight on Jan. 17 and the winner of that could be another potential avenue for Fury,” said Warren. “If an opportunity comes up there, then it will be worth exploring but it’s Klitschko who we want.”
The Fury card will also mark the return of middleweight Chris Eubank Jr., son of the former titleholder, against an opponent to be determined. Eubank will try to rebound from last month’s split decision loss to Billy Joe Saunders.
DEONTAY WILDER: KLITSCHKO’S HEIGHT, POWER TOO MUCH FOR JENNINGS
During a recent interview with RingTV.com, Wilder said he gives the 6-3 Jennings little chance of dethroning the 6-6 Klitschko.
“You know, I wish him luck but I don’t see it. Jennings is just not ready for him. Jennings hasn’t faced no one who has anywhere nearly Klitschko’s height nor anyone of Klitschko’s caliber,” said Wilder, 29, a former Klitschko sparring partner who stands nearly 6-7.
“I’m not saying that that’s why he’s going to lose or whatever because anything is possible in boxing. But I really don’t think that he’s ready for Klitschko when he’s fighting a tall fighter like that, especially when he don’t have no experience fighting a guy with that sort of height.”
Jennings was last in action for a split decision victory over previously unbeaten Mike Perez in July, ending Jennings’ own run of four straight stoppage wins.
“Looking at his performance against Perez, you see how nervous and scared he was in the beginning, it’s going to be 10 times more trouble for him now that he’s gonna be in there against Klitschko. Jennings is going to find that when you’re fighting a guy who is as tall as Klitschko is, that it can be as awkward as the difference between fighting an orthodox fighter and a southpaw,” said Wilder.
“It’s just awkward because Wlad is a tall fighter who knows how to keep his distance and to do it with power. That’s a big, big, big, big, huge step up for him. But I wish him luck, you know? We’ll see what happens. I just don’t see him winning at all and basically, that will just get him out of my way so that I can do what I’ve gotta do.”