Back at the end of November 2015 when Tyson Fury upset the odds and captured the lineal Heavyweight World Title from Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf it was a popular school of thought that there would be a quick rematch.
As soon as Klitschko invoked his immediate rematch clause it appeared that it was full steam ahead to Fury-Klitschko 2.
Fury himself had said prior to the first fight that he had no problems with this clause and from a financial stand point would be more than happy to fight Klitschko again. Such was Fury's resolve to stick to this plan he didn't seem overly concerned when the IBF stripped him of its version of the title after he refused to fight their number 1 contender in his first title defence.
Negotiations between both camps took place and the rematch was scheduled for July 9 in Fury's home city of Manchester, England.
Anyone reading this article knows that due to an ankle injury sustained by the new champion while on a training run the July date was cancelled. This was announced to the world's media along with pictures of Fury's badly bruised ankle on June 24. From my point of view the injury looked genuine and would certainly have prevented the fight going ahead on July 9 as Fury's mobility would've been compromised quite significantly.
To further muddy the waters British newspaper The Sunday Mirror published an article on June 26 alleging that traces of banned anabolic steroid nandrolone had been found in Fury's sample which had been taken 6 months prior to the Dusseldorf meeting with Klitschko. Fury and his team deny any wrongdoing, saying that they were “baffled by the story.” Despite this allegation talks continued behind the scenes for a suitable date and on July 8 Manchester Evening News reported that October 29 had been set for the fight, again at The Manchester Arena. The source for their report was a tweet from Fury from the previous day.
This time frame allows Fury enough time for the injury to heal correctly and then to engage in a full 12 week training camp. It also affords Klitschko time to taper off from his camp and then go again to prepare for October 29. Since the announcement of this rearrangement there has been nothing official about this fight apart from a cursory statement from the promoter saying tickets for the original date would be valid.
For some reason there are alarm bells going off in my head regarding the fight actually taking place at all.
Indeed a look at the Manchester Arena website earlier today revealed that no event is booked in there on October 29. This suggests that the date, venue or even the fight itself is not set in stone.
Round about the time of the original postponement there were rumours of poor ticket sales and in boxing it has been known for fights to be cancelled or moved to another venue for this reason. Whether or not this is the case I have no way of knowing but none of the usual ticket outlets are currently selling seats for Oct 29. I am thinking Klitschko and his team are keeping a close eye on the ongoing investigation into the PED allegations that were levelled at Fury and until the outcome of this is known quite possibly lawyers will get richer carefully wording contracts that may or may not end up being signed.
From a purely boxing point of view it can't be ideal for Klitschko, who turned 40 in March, to be out of the ring for almost a full year in-between bouts with the much younger and stylistically difficult Fury. Although he always shows up in top class condition I expect Klitschko to have to deal with some significant ring rust come October 29. While Fury faces the same problem his style as a movement based boxer and his status as champion should afford him a couple of rounds to feel his way into proceedings.
At times during the promotion for the first bout and July 9 Klitschko looked exasperated with Fury's clowning and mind games. Although this is part of the sport I fear that if there are anymore issues or setbacks coupled with Fury's unique promotional shenanigans the former champion could decide that at age 40 he doesn't need this and might retire instead.
As a boxing fan I am keen for this rematch to take place and I think Fury deserves it at home although if poor ticket sales in Manchester are a problem I don't think he would have a problem travelling back to Germany to fight in a huge football (soccer) stadium again. I am genuinely interested to find out if the first fight was just an off night for Klitschko or if he really is a bit too long in the tooth to be dealing with a boxer like Fury who in the Heavyweight division has a unique skill set. The current Heavyweight scene is exciting with other names now in the frame for either Klitschko or Fury to face and make it worth their while but for the time being the optimal fight for both men, both financially and legacy wise, is a rematch on October 29.
Until they are actually stood face to face across the ring from each other waiting for the first bell I will remain concerned about that actually taking place.