With heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko's American return ending with a clear decision victory against Bryant Jennings on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York, he said he plans to make his defense, a mandatory, against unbeaten British big man Tyson Fury.
Klitschko, who hadn't fought in the United States since 2008, owes Fury, a legitimate mandatory -- not one of the many questionable ones that populate the sanctioning body rankings -- title shot.
The WBA said the fight is due and expects that it will take place within six months.
The fight likely will take place in either England or Germany, where Klitschko is a major star, before the end of the year.
The WBA will order a 30-day negotiating period between the camps before ordering a purse bid in the event that they don't make a deal. The purse split in the event of a bid would be 80-20 in Klitschko's favor.
"I just got the news that it was my (optional) title defense against Bryant Jennings and now I have to go back to being obligated to defend my titles," Klitschko said at the news conference after he outpointed Philadelphia's Jennings (19-1, 10 KOs) on scores of 118-109, 116-111 and 116-111. "I have mandatories. I don't know who is exactly in the line, but the way it looks, Tyson Fury is going to be my next challenger."
With the popularity of Klitschko in Germany and Fury's fan base in the United Kingdom, it's obvious the fight will take place in one of those locations.
"I think this fight needs to happen in Europe," Klitschko said. "It's a good European fight. As the champion of the world, you travel and fight in different places. With Fury fighting me in Germany or in Great Britain, that's something that we have to figure out. Where the location of the fight is going to happen, I don't know yet. But that's what we need to work on in the (coming) weeks and days."
Promoter Frank Warren, who co-promotes Fury with Mick Hennessy, said he hopes to bring the fight to the U.K. and wants to stage it at an outdoor stadium. Fury is anxious for the fight.
"Again, Klitschko did what he had to do against Jennings and won," Fury said. "It was the same as it always is though: the smaller man trying to get inside Klitschko's jab with him holding and leaning, although he was slightly more aggressive against Jennings. Lets see him try that against someone who's the same size as he is, younger, stronger, fitter, faster and with a knockout punch -- me."
The 26-year-old Fury (24-0, 18 KOs), who is 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, is one of the rare Klitschko opponents to be bigger than the 6-foot-6, 241-pound champion.
"I still haven't seen anything he does to concern or worry me at all," Fury said. "I'm just supremely confident that I'll be the man to end his reign on the throne and begin the Fury era. The heavyweight division has been dull for over a decade. I'm going to shake it up and bring back the sparkle."
Klitschko (64-3, 54 KOs), 39, of Ukraine, has made 18 title defenses during his nine-year, second reign -- second-longest in heavyweight history. He is 25-2 overall in world title bouts and tied the division record of 27 held by Joe Louis with his participation in Saturday's bout against Jennings.
If Klitschko can turn back Fury, a return to the United States could be in offing against titlist Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KO), the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, product who has the one belt Klitschko doesn't.
"That's true -- one belt is missing. It was in the Klitschko family, but I never owned the WBC championship," Klitschko said of the belt Wilder owns, which used to belong to Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir's older brother, before he retired at the end of 2012 to pursue a political career in Ukraine. "A unification fight against Wilder would be fantastic. It's not going to happen in the next fight, because I think Deontay needs to defend his title first. After that probably such a fight can happen sometime in the beginning of next year."
Wilder, who won the belt by lopsided decision from Bermane Stiverne on Jan. 17 in Las Vegas, was ringside for Klitschko-Jennings to scout him.