By Phil Woolever
SOMETHING HUGE BREWING – Lending a bit of credence to some of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s recent bluster about his next fight taking place at some exotic, previously unexploited location against an opponent other than Wladimir Klitschko may not have been the farthest stretch at all.
A vibe I got was that Fury had indeed considered playing some wild cards, but something in the contract with K2 gently persuaded Team Fury that fulfilling the signed obligation was likely the smoothest, most profitable way to proceed.
After talking to Klitschko and his manager Bernd Bonte ringside during the recent Huck – Afolabi card, it seems like Klitschko’s rematch against Fury is definitely happening, fairly soon, and that both Klitschko and Bonte are somewhat relieved about that.
It also seemed, though neither man would elaborate on anything along those lines, that the rematch may be even more of a happening than their historic, if sloppy, initial encounter last November in Dusseldorf.
Having a principal’s primary attention and proximity during interview situations, as in sitting in the chair next to them with a tape recorder out, doesn’t mean plenty of fans and associates won’t interject their comments and space. Observing social interactions at such pauses in the narrative can reveal a ton.
Klitschko looked much more relaxed than I have seen him in a while, even just after big fight wins. So did Bonte. Maybe that’s because Huck-Afolabi was obviously a successful event, with a full house and solid TV draw pretty much guaranteed.
“We have a rematch clause that’s obviously already in the media. We have had intense discussions, (Fury’s manager) Mick Hennessy and myself, about the date and the venue,” said Bonte. “We are getting closer and hopefully in the next two to three weeks we can finalize everything. It looks like June, July, that we can do the rematch.”
After scathing criticism from Fury’s team immediately before and after the first bout, everything seemed to be coming up guns and roses now between the camps, at least according to Bonte.
“Mick and myself really are discussing things as business partners and there are no issues. The only thing that’s important is maximizing revenues. We’ll go to the place where we have the chance at the best revenues. As I said before, Mick and I are involved in very good and very intense discussions. I cannot go into details, but there is huge interest worldwide so let’s see where the rematch ends up.”
Klitschko seemed even more optimistic than Bonte, and somewhat relieved.
“I’m really, really happy that I can execute the option that I have on the contract with Fury. One thing that I can promise, Fury’s going to face nobody but me in his next fight. That’s the good news because very often, champions, due to some circumstances, don’t get the rematch. I’m happy to get the rematch. I’ve been successful for a very long time, and I certainly forgot how it feels to be on the other side.”
“I respect the boxing skills of Fury, but it was upsetting that such a man got a stage where he made statements about some of the things he did. Like I said, I’m happy to get the rematch.”
Klitschko seemed typically resolved and determined. That doesn’t mean he can stop Fury from twisting him around the ring again or that Fury won’t get into his head with some new mauling mischief.
When I asked Klitschko what he thought about the upcoming Wilder – Povetkin match, Klitschko had an amused look. Prediction wise, Klitschko said it’s a pick ‘em fight.
“The good part is that eventually, that fight is happening,” said Klitschko. “The fighters are at the top class level and they deserve to face each other.”
Klitschko smiled broadly and put his hand a few inches from his nose to indicate distance, saying, “I had both of them in right in front of my face. Wilder as a sparring partner for many, many rounds of sparring, and Povetkin I fought, so I have a good feeling for both of them.”
“I think it’s going to be a challenging for both of them. I think my fight with Povetkin was a good warm up. Even if he lost it, he’ll still remember trying to handle a bigger guy and technical guy like me. With Wilder it’s certainly similar, I think (now) he’s going to face a competitor that’s at the top level.”
In general, Wladimir looked better and more relaxed than he has in months. That could have been the TV makeup for his first full gig as a blow by blow commentator.
Still, throughout the evening, it seemed both he and Bonte were holding back on potentially huge news they didn’t want to jinx.
Neither businessman revealed much information but here’s another of those possibly indicative vibes: when I asked, basically, “Is the fight more likely to be in Munich or London, or is there any truth to the stuff Fury’s been claiming about spectacular sums in uncharted locales like the Middle East or Asia?”
Both gentlemen got exactly the same look on their face. They also got the same look in their eyes, like they were suppressing a smile.
It was a smile that said you wouldn’t believe it, but I hope you find out.