British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (15-0, 10 KO) will make his first defense of his crowns on September 17 in Belfast, with Channel 5 once again backing the young fighter after strong ratings for his bout with Dereck Chisora on July 23. Here's the poster for the event:
As for an opponent, it's anyone's guess right now, but the names have dwindled. Martin Rogan is out, rejecting what Hennessy said was a lucrative deal. Neven Pajkic, an unbeaten but totally untested 33-year-old "prospect," also won't be taking the fight, and he was thought to be the No. 2 choice behind Rogan.
But there are still some interesting possibilities, and a couple of not-so-interesting possibilities. We'll start with the good ideas: Mike Perez, the Cuban based in Ireland who won a Prizefighter tournament this year, is in the mix. And so is another top prospect, David Price. Both of those would be legitimately tough tests for Fury, and although I do think Fury is a good young fighter, I think Price is a potential true top-shelf heavyweight, and that Perez has the skills to beat Fury, as well.
There's also Coleman Barrett (13-1, 2 KO), who holds the Irish heavyweight title. That's not a fight anyone's dying to see, but Hennessy has said that he wants to get the Irish belt on Fury, which for the most part is a marketing idea. He's already beyond that belt and beyond a fighter like Barrett.
The biggest name who has been mentioned is Audley Harrison, who happens to be the only man to beat Barrett (TKO-2 in a 2009 Prizefighter final). Audley (27-5, 20 KO) hasn't been seen in the ring since his embarrassing "effort" against David Haye last November, which may have been the final straw across the camel's back in terms of anyone having desire to see him fight again. He'd been disappointing in the past on numerous occasions, but in that fight he also left fans feeling duped out of their money. As best I can tell, there have been no serious negotiations with Harrison, and even though he is the biggest name in the mix, he's at least medium-risk for someone like Fury, while also being low-reward. His public image is in the toilet still following the Haye debacle, and he does still have the power and experience to possibly beat Fury. And I don't know if any of the networks want to back Audley again. He's been down that road and had enough second chances.
Who's your money on? Coleman Barrett is the lowest risk of the four and holds a belt that Fury and Hennessy want. But is that fight really marketable at all? Perez and Price are both dangerous, and like Fury are "new generation" heavyweights hoping to legitimately inject some life into the division (and not in the steroid-free serum way of Kimbo Slice and Jared Shaw), while Audley is a known name.