Ranking the Best Opponents for Tyson Fury After Dereck Chisora's Injury
As reported yesterday by the BBC and Sky Sports, heavyweight contender Dereck Chisora was forced to pull out of his fight scheduled for this weekend with fellow Brit Tyson Fury. The bout was supposed to be an elimination fight for a show against Wladimir Klitschko.
It's been a tough year for Fury when it comes to missed opportunities. A twice-delayed fight with former champion David Haye never materialized at the end of last year or start of this one, and he instead faced lightly regarded journeyman Joey Abell last February.
His last meaningful fight was over a year ago, when he stopped former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham in April 2013.
I've never been sold on Fury as a future world champion. But he's a top 10 in the division and a potentially exciting performer, so it's unfortunate to see him sidelined for so long just as the weight class has been heating up overall.
These 10 fights would offer the gigantic Fury worthy opponents and a chance to keep advancing his career.
10. Christian Hammer
Christian Hammer fought last April, winning by unanimous decision over Konstantin Airich. So the Romanian should be available as an opponent fairly quickly.
He'd be a credible name to put in Tyson Fury's win column while Fury's handlers continue to search for a bigger fight for him later this year or early 2015. Hammer is on a good roll since his last loss in 2010.
He knocked out Leif Larsen last August and beat former world title challenger Kevin Johnson this past December. He would likely approach a fight with the undefeated Fury as a big opportunity. It could make for an exciting scrap.
9. Luis Ortiz
An undefeated former Cuban amateur, Luis Ortiz is overdue for a step up in competition. He's 35 and beating the Monte Barretts of the world adds limited cache to his resume at this point.
A crack at a fighter like Tyson Fury would be a major opportunity for Ortiz. For Fury, it's probably more risk than reward, but a bold, young and undefeated heavyweight contender like him should be looking for a relevant fight after this much time on the shelf.
Ortiz would be potentially the best name on Fury's resume. A great performance against the former amateur star would put his name right back into the conversations at heavyweight.
8. Andrzej Wawrzyk
Andrzej Wawrzyk of Poland has lost just once in his professional career, to top contender Alexander Povetkin. His list of defeated opponents isn't exactly staggering. The best names on it are Danny Williams, Denis Bakhtov, Devin Vargas and the ancient Frans Botha.
But the 6'5" Wawrzyk is tough and relatively experienced. He's one of the better heavyweights on the European scene.
He'd make a credible opponent for Tyson Fury in a quickly thrown-together fight to keep Fury busy and challenge him with some tough rounds. He should be a big step up from Joey Abell, who Fury stopped last February.
7. Andy Ruiz Jr.
Mexican heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr. is another undefeated heavyweight contender who is overdue for a truly significant challenge. The 6'9" Tyson Fury would be able to provide him with it.
Ruiz barely missed qualifying for the 2008 Olympics and has shown good skills, a strong chin and heavy hands as a pro. But he hasn't faced anybody at Fury's level.
For Fury, it would be the kind of calculated risk that would better prepare him in the long run for making a legitimate push toward becoming a champion. Ruiz is a fighter I think he should beat. He'd have over a half-foot advantage in height and a significant edge in conditioning.
Fury would probably get pushed in a fight by Ruiz, and he might benefit from the experience more than he would from another stay-busy fight with a decisively overmatched journeyman.
6. Vyacheslav Glazkov
Undefeated Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov beat two-division world champion and former heavyweight title-challenger Tomasz Adamek earlier this year, sending himself to near the top of the heavyweight rankings. The Ring and Boxrec both have Glazkov ranked directly behind Tyson Fury in their top five.
Glazkov is the much better technical boxer, but he's on the small side for a heavyweight fighter without explosive power punching. Still, he's rugged and durable and would be better able to stand up to Fury than former cruiserweight Steve Cunningham was, and Cunningham knocked Fury down and won most of the rounds on my card before Fury caught up to him and knocked him out.
It's a risky fight for Fury. I'd be inclined to pick The Czar.
Then again, I thought Glazkov should have lost in his draw with Malik Scott. And I would give Scott little chance against Fury.
5. David Price
A few years ago, it looked like Tyson Fury and David Price might be on a collision course. Fury's fellow Brit is one of few opponents in the world that could nearly look Fury in the eye.
But the former Olympian's handlers overestimated how quickly their fighter had developed when they threw him to The Tiger, Tony Thompson. The American veteran knocked out Price in back-to-back fights in 2013.
Price has come back with three straight wins and two early stoppages. But at 31, he can't waist time trying to get his career restarted. A fight against the high-profile Fury would give him a chance to climb back into the spotlight.
And I imagine Fury would be happy to fight Britain's other gigantic heavyweight.
4. Alexander Ustinov
Alexander Ustinov is another heavyweight contender with the physical size to stand in Tyson Fury's face. The Belarus native's only defeat came by Round 11 stoppage to the highly rated Kubrat Pulev.
Ustinov is heavier and slower than Fury, and I think he'd be outworked by the Irish-English boxer. Still, Fury's style is designed to win fights by bullying smaller men.
It could be good for his career to have fans see him beat up an opponent who is bigger than he is.
3. Winner of Lucas Browne vs. Andriy Rudenko
Lucas Browne is an undefeated Australian heavyweight. He's a brawler who puts on fan-friendly fights. I expect he'd get in Tyson Fury's face and made it an exciting row.
Browne is already scheduled to face the undefeated Ukrainian Andriy Rudenko on August 1. If Rudenko wins, he'll take a big step up in the ratings, but he's just a bit over 6 feet tall, so he's not as potentially interesting for Fury as Browne would be.
The fight is schedule for England, so an exciting performance by Browne could very easily put him on the map with the British fans as an opponent for Fury.
2. Winner of Bryant Jennings vs. Mike Perez
Whoever wins this fight would make an ideal opponent for Tyson Fury. Either Bryant Jennings or Mike Perez should be able to walk away from this one ranked near the top of the heavyweight division.
The winner of Perez vs. Jennings will be positioned for a title-eliminator against a fighter like Fury.
The fight is scheduled for the Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale undercard this weekend, so a follow-up bout might not be able to take place until the end of the year at the earliest.
I like Jennings to win over Perez, and I'd favor him to beat Fury. But it would be the kind of heavyweight contender fight that would draw an audience on both sides of the Atlantic.
1. Carlos Takam
A 2004 Olympian from Cameroon who now fights out of France, Carlos Takam developed slowly as a professional and shot to widespread attention in North America when he fought Mike Perez to a draw last January. He followed that performance by winning a decision from the always dangerous Tony Thompson in June.
Takam is a big, athletic heavyweight with decent punching power. He's a more talented and dangerous version of Dereck Chisora, though, not as famous.
He'd be a risky opponent for Fury, and he's behind the Brit in the ratings. But he'd also give Fury the best win of his career, and I think the two of them match up well for an exciting fight.
It's a fight that makes sense for boxing fans on both sides of the English Channel, and it would be watched closely by followers of the heavyweight division.