Wladimir Klitschko will exercise his right for a rematch with Tyson Fury

ByDan Rafael ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Former heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko did not spend much time thinking about his next step after being dethroned by Tyson Fury on Saturday.

Four days after one of boxing's biggest upsets, Klitschko announced on Wednesday that he has decided to exercise his contractual right to an immediate rematch.

"I was really frustrated directly after the fight, but after some short nights, I now know that I want to show that I am much better than my performance on Saturday," Klitschko said. "I couldn't show my full potential at any time. This is what I want to change in the rematch -- and I will. Failure is not an option."

Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), 27, of England, traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany -- where the Ukrainian Klitschko is a major star -- and pulled the biggest heavyweight upset since Hasim Rahman starched Lennox Lewis to win the title in South Africa in 2001.

Although Klitschko-Fury produced virtually no betting action and neither fighter looked particularly impressive, Fury frustrated Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs), who looked every bit his 39 years, with his movement and size advantage to win, 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112.

The victory ended Klitschko's historic title reign. He had held the title for nine and a half years -- second-longest in heavyweight history -- and made 18 consecutive title defenses, third-most in division history. Klitschko also had not lost for 11 years, was riding a 22-fight winning streak and was appearing in his record-setting 28th world heavyweight title fight across two title reigns.

The fight drew a crowd of some 50,000 to the ESPIRIT Arena; given the magnitude of the upset, a rematch figures to be a massive event.

"There will be a huge worldwide interest in this fight, which already can be billed as the fight of the year 2016," Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager, said. "We received so many questions of fans and journalists after last Saturday. The new champion and his challenger will answer all of them inside the ring."

Mick Hennessy, Fury's promoter, told ESPN.com that their side was thrilled that Klitschko elected to go for the rematch.

"We relish [that he exercised] that option," Hennessy said. "There's no bigger fight than fighting Wladimir again. [A title unification fight with Deontay] Wilder is nowhere near as big. And [mandatory challenger Vyacheslav] Glazkov? Come on. He's an unknown. He doesn't bring anything to the table in any way shape or form. ... We were worried Wladimir wouldn't take the rematch. We are delighted. It's good that Wladimir made the decision quickly. We can strike while the iron's hot. We'll see an even better Tyson in the rematch."

Klitschko's decision to take the rematch isn't a surprise, although he took time to digest the defeat. On Monday, Klitschko wrote on social media: "I still don't believe I actually lost. Man, I'm suffering."

Two days later, he decided to go for the rematch. Boente said he would soon talk with Hennessy to discuss the particulars of the rematch.

Fury's camp suggested after Saturday's fight that they'd be interested in having a potential rematch at London's Wembley Stadium, where a crowd of about 80,000 turned out to see the rematch between then-unified super middleweight titlist Carl Froch and British countryman George Groves in May 2014.

Hennessy said he has been getting calls from venues around the world interested in hosting the rematch, which he said would take place in April at the earliest but no later than June.

"We'll be looking at venues everywhere and we'll go where it will gross the most money," Hennessy said. "There are massive stadiums here in England but everyone wants the fight. I've had contacts from abroad, the (United Arab Emirates) as well. We are excited -- both sides are to make this a super fight."

Hennessy said he would not have to be bogged down negotiating the financial terms for the rematch because they were addressed in the original agreement.

"We are very, very happy with Tyson's situation in this deal as champion. We're done," Hennessy said.

On Monday, Fury accused Klitschko's camp of being "cheats" and said he refused to accept any water after the match for fear of being drugged. Fury also said he was given the wrong gloves for the fight, was put down for the wrong weight at the weigh-in and almost called off the bout because there was too much foam under the canvas in the ring.

Klitschko's camp has not yet responded to those allegations.

Fury won the lineal title from Klitschko as well as three major sanctioning organization belts, but one of those belts, the IBF, likely will not be at stake in the rematch. Fury was ordered on Monday to next make a mandatory defense against Glazkov, and the camps were given 30 days to make a deal or a purse bid would be ordered.

On Tuesday, Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, who represents Glazkov (21-0-1, 13 KOs), informed the IBF that they were unwilling to participate in negotiations and requested an immediate purse bid, which is allowable under IBF rules, and the bid was scheduled to take place Dec. 11 at noon ET at IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.

However, the fight and purse bid likely will not happen. With Fury contractually obligated to face Klitschko again and unable to face Glazkov next - in a fight worth a fraction of the money of a rematch with Klitschko - the belt likely will be vacated.

Glazkov, 31, a 2008 Olympic super heavyweight bronze medalist from Ukraine, would likely meet Charles Martin (22-0-1, 20 KOs), 29, of Carson, California, for the vacant belt.

Hennessy said if the Fury-Klitschko rematch happens without the IBF involved, so be it.

"If they're going to manipulate this situation to have two average fighters not worthy of the heavyweight title fighting (for the IBF belt), they're going to push Tyson, who is the lineal champion, into a position where he will do a press conference put that belt into the (trash) bin," he said. "We feel they've shown zero respect for the new champion or for the former champion, who held their title for 9 years.