Bunce on Boxing: Heavyweight future still Klitschko & Co

Fury could fill the gap between the Klitschko decades and the sport's next mystery big man

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The Independent Online

As the new English heavyweight champion David Price prepares to fight in America, as the eccentric former British heavyweight champion Dereck "Del Boy" Chisora gets ready to fight in Germany and as the heavyweight division prepares for three weekends of world title fights, the search for the future star continues.

There are a couple of Americans getting a bit of publicity but the reality is that Seth Mitchell and Deontay Wilder are several fights short of competing against either of the dominant Klitschko brothers or the equally impressive but underrated Alexander Povetkin, who has a portion of the preposterously divided world heavyweight title.

Wilder won a bronze medal in Beijing and is unbeaten in 20 fights, with 20 stoppages. His progress is being beautifully crafted to avoid any risks by his promoters, Golden Boy, the sport's wealthiest outfit.

"I'm ready to make history," said Wilder. It is a nice soundbite but Golden Boy knows that, at 26, time is on the Alabama banger's side. I like the look of the kid, but at 6ft 7in and about 15st he looks like two athletes; a Kenyan marathon runner from the waist down and a heavyweight from the waist up.

One of the leading contenders is the enigmatic, complicated and exciting gypsy fighter Tyson Fury, who could very well fill the gap between the end of the Klitschko decades and whatever mystery big man is waiting for the sport in about 10 years' time. It could also be Price, who beat Fury when they were amateurs. I would certainly back Price and Fury against the long, long list of old American men who have, amazingly, stayed in contention even as they edge closer to a bus pass. There is a crisis in the American heavyweight division.

"I'm looking for the future of the heavyweight division right now," Don King told me – nine years ago. He has stayed involved, had a bit of this fighter and a bit of that fighter but no real stars, no ruling heavyweight.

"Yeah," King told me recently. "I'm still looking for the future, but it is not easy."

King is not the only promoter looking for a heavyweight champion and after speaking to a dozen or so quality and fringe promoters in the last month or so, it is clear to me that the search is getting serious. There have, though, been a few comic turns. Frank Maloney, who did find Lennox Lewis, tried the Indian market a few years back with Sugar Raj, a Delhi policeman and big lump. Sadly, Raj was useless.

"We have great contacts all over Europe, in just about every country," said Kalle Sauerland of the giant German company Sauerland Promotions. "We have Serbians, Armenians, Russians and just about every nationality and if there is a big guy out there we will find him. It's what we do."

They do it very well: on 25 February in Stuttgart Sauerland has Marco Huck against Povetkin, Russia's 2004 Olympic champion who is the current WBA heavyweight champion.

Wladimir Klitschko defends his four versions of the world title on 3 March in Düsseldorf, against the Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck, who like Huck is a former world champion at cruiserweight. The Klitschko brothers are running out of challengers and that is where Chisora enters the mix. He will fight Vitali for the WBC belt in Munich on 18 February.

Frank Warren also has good contacts in parts of Europe and he has been proselytising about the Eastern-bloc heavies since before the Klitschko brothers emerged, ragged, raw and poor, in the late 90s. "It only takes one," Warren said.

However, it is a good bet that the Klitschko brothers will stay dominant and find the "one", because of their promotional ambitions. They have about 20 full-time staff at offices in Hamburg, Los Angeles and Kiev and their retirement plans are impressive. They include ruling the heavyweight division from the safe side of the ropes.

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