By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — A win over Steve Cunningham theoretically would lead Tyson Fury one step closer to a shot at IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
That’s not the brash British contender’s motivation, though. In fact, the huge heavyweight is convinced he won’t fight Wladimir Klitschko or WBC champion Vitali Klitschko before either brother retires from boxing.
“I don’t think they will fight me,” Fury, 24, said after a press conference Wednesday in Manhattan to promote his 12-round fight against Cunningham on Saturday in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. “Wladimir won’t fight me because he’s got nothing to gain. He’s got plenty of money. He’s earned millions and millions. He’s had a good career. What’s he going to gain? I don’t see a gain.”
Wladimir Klitschko (59-3, 50 KOs) is scheduled to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against unknown Italian Francesco Pianeta (28-0-1, 15 KOs) on May 4 in Mannheim, Germany. Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs), who’ll turn 42 on July 19, hasn’t fought since stopping Manuel Charr (23-1, 13 KOs) in the fourth round Sept. 8 in Moscow and hasn’t indicated if he’ll even continue his career.
“You’ve got the WBC champion, who ain’t defending, ain’t saying what he’s going to do,” Fury said. “And he’s allowed to do that. In what other sport would the top team in the world, or player, be allowed not to do anything, just sit down and have a gain? It’s laughable, isn’t it? Then they say you’ve got to fight a semifinal, a final and another [B.S.] eliminator. I’ve already fought one. This will be two. Pulev will be three. Do I have to fight another one? I’ll fight No. 10. It’s all [B.S.], anyway.”
Even if Fury (20-0, 14 KOs) was Vitali Klitschko’s mandatory challenger, he doesn’t think they’d fight.
“It’s the same [as with Wladimir],” said Fury, who’s ranked No. 5 by the WBC and No. 8 by the IBF. “Why would he fight a young man coming up? It’s senseless. They’ve had their careers, they’ve had everything and it’s pointless to fight someone like me because I’m dangerous and I’m young and I’m ambitious and I’ve got good heart. Plus, I’m tall, so why risk it all to fight me? Why would you want to lose? They’re going to retire as the heavyweight champions of the world and go into politics.”
Fury’s fight against Cunningham (NBC; 4 p.m. ET) is an IBF elimination match for the No. 2 spot in the Springfield, N.J.-based sanctioning organization’s heavyweight rankings. The winner must beat Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (17-0, 9 KOs), the IBF’s No. 1 contender, in another elimination match to become Wladimir Klitschko’s mandatory challenger.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.