British heavyweight contender Tyson Fury, who is risking his status as world champion Wladimir Klitschko's mandatory challenger by accepting a fight on Feb. 28, found out on Wednesday whom he will face.
Terms have been agreed to for Fury to take on Christian Hammer at the O2 Arena in London, promoter Frank Warren announced. He said that although the sides have agreed to a deal, the contracts will not be signed until after the holidays.
"I've said all along I'm not like these other fighters in the division who pussyfoot around, take soft touches and call themselves fighters," Fury said. "I could have taken an easy job at the O2 Arena to keep my position safe for my world title fight against Klitschko, but that's not what Tyson Fury is about or what the public want to see from someone who has promised from day one to win the world heavyweight title."
"On paper, it's a dangerous job against Hammer. He's highly ranked, he brings a big punch with him, he'll have ambitions of his own to beat me and grab himself a world title shot against Klitschko, and I'm sure he'll be full of confidence coming over here."
Said Warren: "Fury will have his hands full with Hammer, who could create a huge shock if he wins. It's a risky fight for Fury, who's within touching distance of Klitschko and the world title. But Fury needs to keep active by fighting until Klitschko gets his fight in April out of the way and then comes to the table to negotiate the fight with Fury or the fight goes to purse bids. Fury needs to concentrate on Hammer and leave the talk of Klitschko until after he's dealt with Hammer."
The 27-year-old Hammer (17-3, 10 KOs), born in Romania and fighting out of Germany, is riding a 10-fight winning streak since suffering back-to-back losses to former title challenger Mariusz Wach and Taras Bidenko in 2010. But Hammer's winning streak has come against modest opposition.
His one notable win during the streak was a one-sided 10-round decision against former world title challenger Kevin Johnson last December. Fury also owns a win against Johnson, a one-sided 12-round decision against him in December 2012.
"Training for Hammer will start in early January and this year is a big one for me and the world title is in my sight," Fury said. "My focus will be on Hammer now. He's my priority and the man in the way of my dream. There's no messing about in the heavyweight division. One punch can turn everything upside down. That goes for him and for me, but I've got two things that other fighters lack, a fighting heart and massive balls. I love to fight. If I go down, I get up and win, that's why people love me and want to see me fight. Tyson Fury will never lose, simple."
The 26-year-old Fury (23-0, 17 KOs) is coming off a superb performance in a 10th-round knockout in a one-sided destruction of countryman Dereck Chisora in their rematch Nov. 29 in London. The fight was the final eliminator to produce one of Klitschko's mandatory challengers. In addition, Fury also won the European title and vacant British title.
Klitschko (63-3, 54 KOs) is slated to make his 18th title defense April 25 (HBO), likely against American Bryant Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) in New York. The winner of that fight likely would face Fury later in 2015 in the mandatory defense.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Hammer said he plans to upset Fury's plans for a world title shot.
"I'm grateful for this fantastic opportunity to fight Tyson Fury, and I'll be in the best shape of my life. This is a golden opportunity for me to get the No. 1 position to fight Klitschko for the world title if I can beat Fury," Hammer said. "I love to fight bigger, taller, men, and [the 6-9, 265-pound] Fury is perfect for me. It will be a hard fight, but I've got every confidence that I'll surprise everyone with a win in his backyard."