His fight with Wladimir Klitschko won’t go down as a classic, but Tyson Fury doesn’t care. All that matters to him is his new title: Heavyweight champion of the world.
The undefeated Englishman upset the odds in Dusseldorf, Germany, as he seized the WBA, IBF and WBO from Klitschko courtesy of a unanimous points win.
Few believed Fury could pull off the shock result, particularly on the road.
Klitschko had not tasted defeat since 2004, while he had held the IBF strap since April 2006. Dr Steelhammer was the heavyweight in world boxing.
However, the Ukrainian never came to terms with the tall, awkward Fury, who was awarded the victory at the Esprit Arena by scores of 115-112 (twice) and 116-111.
So, what’s in store for Fury’s future now?
Predicting what the 27-year-old will do next is never an easy task, though it seems a singing career—judging by his rendition of an Aerosmith classic in the ring after his triumph—is not in the pipeline.
Here, Bleacher Report picks out five potential opponents (plus a few honourable mentions) for the new champion.
An obvious candidate should be David Haye, who recently announced his comeback.
The former WBA champion said of his ring return, per the Guardian: “It’s been a long three and a half years out, with many ups and downs, but The Hayemaker is finally back and ready to do what I do best.”
A Fury-Haye showdown next summer, potentially at Wembley stadium and on pay-per-view television, sounds good, right?
Sadly, though, it isn’t going to happen.
The pair have history together, as Haye twice pulled out of bouts against his compatriot due to injury.
Those cancellations left a bitter taste with Fury. He has no intention of offering Haye a third opportunity to face him in the ring, no matter how much the fight could be worth financially.
According to Gareth A Davies in the Telegraph, Fury would rather give up a title: “Point blank, if Haye gets into the mandatory position for the WBA title, he can have the WBA. Let him go and fight Fred Flintstone or Joe Bloggs and make no money. If he gets mandatory for it, I will vacate.”
There is another British heavyweight that could be considered for a first defence.
No, not Anthony Joshua (more on him to come) but the man he faces next—Dillian Whyte. That possibility would depend on how Whyte performs on December 12.
As for fighters from further afield, German Erkan Teper and Joseph Parker of New Zealand are unbeaten fighters who are waiting for a shot at the big names.
5. Shannon Briggs
Record: 59-6-1 (52 KOs)
Last fight: Defeated Michael Marrone by KO (September 5, 2015)
Shannon Briggs isn’t happy with Tyson Fury. The American, nicknamed The Cannon, had been chasing Wladimir Klitschko for years.
He had gatecrashed press conferences, gym sessions and public appearances in an attempt to goad the Ukrainian into fighting him.
However, the opportunity never arrived for Briggs, who took Wladimir’s older brother, Vitali, the distance back in 2010 before losing on points.
Instead, he had to watch on as Fury handed the younger Klitschko just a fourth defeat of his long and distinguished professional career.
Briggs took to Instagram to give his thoughts on the fight in Germany, branding it “Terrible. Horrible. Sloppy. Nothing to be proud of.”
Fury’s team could now view Briggs as an ideal candidate for a first defence on home soil. He is a decent name with a good record, plus his out-of-the ring behaviour would make every media conference a potential powder keg.
He is, though, now 43 years old. Plus, Briggs hasn’t fought a major name since losing to Vitali.
4. Lucas Browne
Record: 23-0 (20 KOs)
Last fight: Defeated Julius Long by KO (August 14, 2015)
Lucas Browne is an undefeated Australian heavyweight who is no stranger to British audiences.
The 36-year-old has fought five times on English soil, including stopping Richard Towers—a fighter who has sparred with both Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko—back in 2013.
His promoter just so happens to be Ricky Hatton, an added bonus in terms of attracting public interest.
However, per Neil Devey of the West Australian, “Big Daddy” Browne is set to face regular WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev in the early months of 2016.
Fury, though, would be the more lucrative option for him.
The Englishman has talked before about facing Browne, telling James Robson of the Manchester Evening News in 2014: “That’s a big-money fight and I’m not going to waste it for no money. When I get a world title I will gladly defend it against Lucas. That’s a promise.”
So, will Fury keep his word?
Browne has a career knockout ratio of 87 per cent, albeit he has yet to be tested at the highest level.
3. Anthony Joshua
Record: 14-0 (14 KOs)
Last fight: Defeated Gary Cornish by KO (September 12, 2015)
Anthony Joshua is the golden boy of British boxing, and not just because of his success at the Olympics in London.
Since winning a gold medal at the 2012 Games, the 26-year-old has gone on to make a big splash in the paid ranks.
So far, none of his 14 opponents have managed to see the end of Round 3. He is big and brutal in the ring, yet he has also endeared himself to the public with his broad smile and easy-going personality.
Dillian Whyte is next up for Joshua, on December 12. The pair will settle an old rivalry that stems back to their amateur days.
A win, and a comprehensive one at that, would lead to talk about Joshua facing Tyson Fury in 2016.
On the prospect of the two Englishmen meeting, Kevin Mitchell wrote in the Guardian: “That would fill Wembley five times over—and that is why Fury should avoid a return with [Wladimir] Klitschko for as long as possible, although he would not see it that way. He has never shied away from challengers.”
But, before you get your hopes up, don’t expect promoter Eddie Hearn to rush Joshua, one of his prized assets, into a bout he might not yet be quite ready for.
The Londoner seems destined to challenge for a world title. However, that opportunity may not come until nearer the end of 2016, at the very earliest.
2. Deontay Wilder
Record: 35-0 (34 KOs)
Last fight: Defeated Johann Duhaupas by TKO (September 26, 2015)
As the WBC champion, Deontay Wilder currently has the only belt not in Tyson Fury’s possession.
A bout between the pair would give the heavyweight division a first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000 (provided the outcome wasn’t a draw, of course), according to BBC Sport’s Ben Dirs.
Wilder didn’t wait long after the verdict in Germany to raise the possibility of a potential clash with Fury on Twitter, including using the hashtag “#ImComingForYou” in a brief but obvious message.
The Bronze Bomber has helped make heavyweight boxing a talking point again in the United States.
Born in Alabama, the 30-year-old is unbeaten in 35 fights. Only Bermane Stiverne has taken him the distance so far, and even then Wilder won by a landslide on the scorecards.
Wilder has a bout pencilled in for January 16, 2016. Per BoxRec, it is not yet known who his opponent will be.
In the aftermath of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko, Fury branded the American a “novice, basketball player,” according to John Dennen of Boxing News.
Still, an Anglo-American clash between Fury and Wilder would be big on both sides of the Atlantic, no matter where it ended up being held.
1. Wladimir Klitschko
Record: 64-4 (53 KOs)
Last fight: Lost to Tyson Fury on points (November 28, 2015)
Although it wasn’t a great spectacle, it seems Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury will meet again in 2016.
Klitschko’s management team announced after the bout in Germany that there was a rematch clause in the contract, as confirmed by ESPN’s Dan Rafael on Twitter.
Despite the fact he will turn 40 in March 2016, the Ukrainian seems keen to carry on fighting.
It seems Klitschko wants the chance to immediately win back his titles, per Sky Sports: “There will be a rematch. It is still early and I have to process things but there will definitely be a rematch.”
Fury would be happy enough with a second appointment with Dr Steelhammer.
According to James Robson of the Manchester Evening News, the new champion said: “I’m a fighter, so I will take on all challengers. I want to be a great champion. I’d like to do it all again.”
The details—where and when—will need to be ironed out, but it appears Fury-Klitschko II is going to happen at some stage in the future.