IT must have all seemed so simple at the time. Sat at the negotiating table opposite the team representing Wladimir Klitschko, WBA and WBO mandatory challenger Tyson Fury had two distinct options: allow the imminent opening of purse bids for his world heavyweight title shot and retain a chance of the fight taking place in the UK, while accepting just 20 per cent of the winning offer; or agree a private deal with K2 that would guarantee significantly more money. He of course chose option two and, as he revealed to Boxing News shortly afterwards, this included a rematch clause which obligated him to face Klitschko once again should the big underdog pull off an unlikely upset. In Fury’s confident mind, this clause was likely a technicality, a trifling irrelevance. He would venture to Germany, shock the world by deposing a champion who had reigned for over a decade then, should the frazzled Ukranian remain willing, defeat him again, more emphatically second time around.
Having completed stage one, the plan is unchanged. The key question is whether Fury or his team were aware when they signed to face Klitschko just how pressing the latter’s IBF mandatory obligations were, and that Tyson would inherit these should he triumph. Back then, Vyacheslav Glazkov, the IBF mandatory contender, was a peripheral figure to Fury – if he was considered at all.
Now Glazkov is all- important, as the IBF have stated Fury must meet him next or forfeit their belt. The sanctioning body have widely and unsurprisingly been depicted as villains of the piece, but they are merely enforcing their own rules which, however flawed or selectively applied in the past, are set out quite clearly on their website. A challenger who dethrones the champion in an “optional” defence – Fury’s bid was mandated by two organisations, neither of which was the IBF – must take on their predecessor’s duties regarding mandatories. The last IBF mandatory defence was Klitschko’s crushing win over Kubrat Pulev in November 2014. There is supposed to be one every 12 months, but the IBF presumably allowed Klitschko grace to satisfy his WBA and WBO obligations against Fury as those bodies were ahead in the rotation. They were not going to postpone Glazkov’s shot indefinitely, however.
Fury and his team may have been aware of this impending shower on their parade or at least should have been. But without the rematch clause, one that didn’t need to be signed to secure the Klitschko fight, Fury would be able to keep all his newly won belts. Still, he’ll earn a career-best payday for the Klitschko return so I think he’ll be suitably compensated for any sense of loss.