- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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NEW YORK -- Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is a big favorite to retain his title for the 18th time when he faces Philadelphia’s Bryant Jennings on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at Madison Square Garden. If Klitschko is successful, as most expect he will be, what’s next?
He does have a mandatory defense due against undefeated British contender Tyson Fury. That would be a huge fight in England or Germany, where Klitschko is a major star.
Not one to look ahead, Klitschko nonetheless conceded that if he wins Saturday, Fury will be at the top of the list.
“Absolutely yes. This fight is gonna be huge in Europe, absolutely huge in Europe,” he said.
There is also the possibility, remote as it might seem for his next fight, that he could face titleholder Deontay Wilder, who holds the one major belt Klitschko does not have. It’s the one that used to belong to Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir’s older brother, before he retired at the end of 2012, and Wladimir would like it back in the family.
“I think it’s a logical way to think,” Wladimir Klitschko said of his desire to face Wilder, one of his former sparring partners. “The belt I never had would be nice to have. I need to say I’m in the driver’s seat. He just won the title [in January]. He needs to defend it, but I hope this fight happens sooner than later. I know he has decision makers behind him. We’ll see what happens, but it’s a logical step to have a unification fight, absolutely yes.
“I’d rather fight with Wilder in a pay-per-view fight, and it would be nice to have another belt. But there’s one heavyweight champion for a long time. If anyone wants to get it, they need to get to me. Do I look forward to it? Yes. Am I desperate for it? No. Is it interesting for the public? Yes.
Let’s see how things develop. Later there will be time to consider Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder fights, but now is not the time to talk about that. I cannot underestimate Jennings.”
If Wladimir Klitschko defeats Deontay Wilder and retains his heavyweight championship, there two big names he could be facing next.