Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's first bout since signing a co-promotional deal with Top Rank last month will be against German prospect Tom Schwarz, the promotion announced Saturday night.
The fight will take place on June 15 and stream live on ESPN+ in the United States.
The venue is not settled yet. Top Rank has the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on hold for the date and has a request in with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to put on the event there. The date request is on the agenda for the commission meeting on March 27. However, there is also a chance, according to multiple sources, that the fight will move down the street to an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas -- either the MGM Grand Garden Arena or the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The fight is a major downgrade compared to the opponent most expected Fury to fight next, before he signed with Top Rank. Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), 30, of England, walked away from a rematch with world titleholder Deontay Wilder that was close to being finalized in order to sign the lucrative multiyear deal with Top Rank, which now co-promotes him with Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions.
Fury and Wilder fought to an exciting draw on Dec. 1 at Staples Center in Los Angeles in the main event of a Showtime PPV card and both passionately called for a rematch, which ultimately was ordered by the WBC, whose belt Wilder holds.
Many thought Fury, who outboxed Wilder for long stretches, won the fight. But Wilder also scored two knockdowns, including a heavy one in the 12th round that Fury somehow survived. In the end, the fight was scored a draw: 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and 113-113.
But once the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Fury signed with Top Rank to have his fights shown exclusively on ESPN platforms, the prospect of an immediate rematch with Wilder, who has been loyal to Showtime, became unlikely.
Top Rank said it wasn't opposed to putting on the rematch with Wilder, but it first wanted to build Fury into a bigger name in the United States to make the fight much bigger commercially; the fight with Wilder sold around 325,000 pay-per-view subscriptions. Top Rank offered Wilder a multifight deal to fight an interim bout for $12.5 million this summer followed by a rematch worth at least $20 million with Fury in the fall, but he turned it down and instead made a deal with Showtime to fight his mandatory challenger, Dominic Breazeale, on May 18 in New York. Terms of that deal were not disclosed.
Top Rank will now try to build Fury's name without the benefit of him facing a marquee opponent. He has boxed only twice in the U.S., against Wilder and in a seventh-round knockout of former cruiserweight world titlist Steve Cunningham in New York in 2013, a fight in which Cunningham scored a second-round knockdown.
The 6-5, 240-pound Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs), 24, is an unknown opponent with no résumé to speak of. He has fought all of his fights in Germany except for two that were in the Czech Republic. He has never faced a remotely top opponent, but he is unbeaten and younger than Fury.