By Jake Donovan
The upcoming World heavyweight championship between reigning king Wladimir Klitschko and unbeaten mandatory challenger Tyson Fury is officially on.
The two will collide October 24 in Dusseldorf, Germany, according to representatives from the World Boxing Association (WBA).
“We’re very happy to reach an agreement with Hennessy Sports for this great heavyweight title matchup,” said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, promoter of Klitschko. “The fight will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany on Saturday, October 24.”
The two camps avoided a purse bid literally at the last minute, as a deal was reached shortly before Monday’s hearing at WBA headquarters in Panama. Terms were not yet revealed, although substantial enough to please all parties involved.
"Teams for Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury have reached an agreement before the hearing,” a WBA spokesman confirmed to BoxingScene.com.
Network affiliation has yet to be assigned, though it is believed that HBO will air the heavyweight championship bout. If so, it will mark Klitschko's third straight appearance on the American premium cable outlet, and fourth in his last five fights.
A purse bid was ordered after the respective camps for Klitschko and Fury failed to reach terms. The heavyweights were granted a 60-day negotiation period to avoid the bout having to go to a purse bid.
Talks apparently went further along than either side let on. Promoters from around the world had flown in to Panama to attend the hearing, only to learn that a deal was reached at the 11th hour—literally, as the hearing was set to begin at 11:00 a.m. local time.
Included among the lot was Vlad Hrunov, who was the winning bidder the last time a Klitschko title fight went to a purse hearing. Hrunov submitted a whopping $23.2 million for the Oct. '13 clash between Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, in which Klitschko claimed a 12-round decision in Moscow.
Hrunov may very well have claimed top honors in Monday's hearing. The Russian promoter was prepared to submit a bid of $18 million for the latest heavyweight championship event that will instead be promoted by K2 Promotions.
Klitschko (64-3, 53KOs) makes the 12th defense of the World (lineal) heavyweight championship, along with attempting his 19th consecutive defense of at least one major title. The younger brother of the most dominant duo in heavyweight history has held at least one title since his rematch win over Chris Byrd in April ’06.
A large portion of his reign has taken place in Germany, including two previous title defenses in Dusseldorf. Both fights took place at the ESPRIT Arena, which can accommodate up to 66,000 in attendance.
Klitschko scored knockout wins in each appearance at the venue. The first defense of his World lineal championship took place there, stopping Eddie Chambers in the 12th round of their March '10 fight. His last trip to Dusseldorf came in March '12, knocking out former cruiserweight king Jean-Marc Mormeck in four rounds.
Fury (24-0, 18KOs) enters his first major title fight. The outspoken heavyweight from England earned the right to fight for the title following a career-best performance in a 10th round stoppage of Dereck Chisora in their rematch last November.
The win over Chisora—which came three years after the two met as unbeaten prospects in 2011—served as a final eliminator as sanctioned by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), one of four major titles in Klitschko's possession in addition to the lineal championship.
It was agreed upon by the WBO and WBA to recognize Fury as the mandatory challenger. Such was the reason for Monday's planned purse bid hearing take place in Panama and not at WBO headquarters in Puerto Rico.
Fury—who turns just 27 in August—has scored four straight knockouts, including an off-the-canvas 7th round stoppage of Steve Cunningham in April ’13, his lone fight career fight in the United States.
The upcoming clash with Klitschko—which will mark his fourth career fight outside of the United Kingdom—could have possibly taken place sooner had Fury followed a path previously put in front of him.
Fury's win over Cunningham was to lead to a final eliminator versus then-unbeaten Kubrat Pulev. The 6'9" heavyweight declined, instead moving towards a showdown with former two-division champ David Haye in a bout that ultimately failed to materialize.
He has since fought three times, with stay busy wins over Joey Abell and Christian Hammer bookending his rematch win over Chisora. The win over Hammer was taken as means to bide his time while awaiting Klitschko’s granted voluntary defense versus Bryant Jennings, with the condition that Fury would get the winner.
Klitschko claimed a 12-round decision over Jennings in April, the fight serving as his first stateside appearance in more than seven years. There exists the possibility that he could one day return to the U.S. for perhaps a fight with reigning unbeaten titlist Deontay Wilder.
Of course, Fury would be keen on such a matchup as well, as the two undefeated heavyweights have spent plenty of time taking vulgar shots at one another through social media. A win over Klitschko would put him in position to call out Wilder and quite frankly any other heavyweight on the planet.
For now, boxing fans await for what is—from both a physical and marketing standpoint—the biggest heavyweight fight in years.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox