After a highly successful promotion in Las Vegas, Tyson Fury will be fighting in New York in September/October against an as-yet-unnamed opponent. Co-promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum know that the level of opposition has to be significantly higher than Tom Schwarz who was little more than a sacrificial lamb even though he was the recipient of a spurious WBO No2 ranking.
The most obvious name to put forward is Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev who signed with Arumâ€™s Top Rank Promotions last year. Kubrat though is the IBFâ€™s mandatory contender and it might be that the New Jersey-based organisation orders champion Andy Ruiz Jr to defend immediately against the man who challenged Wladimir Klitschko for his titles back in November 2014.
Pulev of course has just been through the so-called â€˜Kissgateâ€™ saga where, in celebration of his win over contender Bogdan Dinu, he grabbed hold of what now appears to be a friend, and kissed her full on the lips. The event, filmed as part of the ESPN broadcast went viral along with accusations of sexual harassment. What some people will stoop to for a moment in the limelight.
Another angle to promote the fight is Pulevâ€™s 12 round unanimous decision win over Tysonâ€™s cousin Hughie Fury in Sofia, Bulgaria in October 2018, the family revenge factor could be exploited.
Another name that came up on social media recently is Jarrell â€˜Big Babyâ€™ Miller whoâ€™s June 1st challenge to then unified champion Anthony Joshua, fell through when he failed 3 consecutive VADA drug tests. Miller lost out on a $5m purse and the opportunity to derail â€˜AJâ€™ who subsequently lost to Andy Ruiz Jr.
There will be those who would want to deny Miller the opportunity to come back to a career high purse as punishment for his crimes. However, if there is big money to be lost by media outlets, promoters and governing bodies, I am sure Miller could be made to look the victim here.
There should be some sort of ban coming for Miller, but the fact that his New York State Athletic Commission license had expired at the time of the failed tests could possibly be used to exclude him from such a ban.
Millerâ€™s promoter Salita Promotions have stated that they have not had any contact with Top Rank or Warren regarding a Fury vs Miller bout.
All of these top 15 ranked contenders have fights coming up that exclude them from fighting Fury in September/October:
Adam Kownacki vs Chris Arreola â€“ 03/08
Robert Helenius vs Gerald Washington â€“ 13/07
Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas â€“ 20/07
Dereck Chisora vs Artur Szpilka â€“ 20/07
Joseph Parker vs Alex Leapai â€“ 29/06
Joe Joyce â€“ Bryant Jennings â€“ 13/07
Daniel Dubois vs Nathan Gorman â€“ 13/07
Otto Wallin vs BJ Flores â€“ 12/07
Top 15 ranked contenders that may be available for September/October:
Of the available contenders Pulev, Povetkin, and Hunter would top my list with Kabayel coming in last. Although both are unbeaten, Kuzmin and Hrgovic do not have the experience needed to face a Fury who looks to be at the height of his powers. We have to hope that Top Rank has the wisdom to know that they will face huge criticism if they choose Charr, Bryan, or Oquendo who have been inactive and do not deserve their rankings.
European champion Agit Kabayel has some decent names on his record, including former world title challenger Dereck Chisora. Iâ€™m just not sure the American fans want another unknown German opponent who hasnâ€™t fought American opposition, so that they could gauge his capabilities.
Bob Arum has said that he would like Fury to face Wilder in his next bout, before the end of the year, but because Wilder is already contracted to face Cuban Luis â€˜King Kongâ€™ Ortiz In a rematch of their exciting March 2018 title fight in October/November it is more likely that Wilder vs Fury II will take place in early 2020.
It would probably cost too much money for Top Rank to secure the services of Povetkin for a non-title fight that probably wouldnâ€™t sell on PPV in the United States, and with Pulev likely to pursue an IBF title shot, I fear we are going to see Fury forced to face a fighter of the same calibre as Tom Schwarz.