After he outclassed Dereck Chisora to win the British and European titles at the end of November, Tyson Fury also earned himself the status as mandatory challenger for the WBO heavyweight title currently held by Wladimir Klitschko. It's a stage of his career that Fury has been looking to achieve since defeating Chisora in their initial bout in 2011, but within weeks of moving in line for a shot at the unified title holder, Christian Hammer had been lined up as his next opponent.
Despite Klitschko being unavailable until the summer at the earliest, some have questioned Fury's insistence on risking his chance to go up against the younger of the Ukrainian brothers, but for a man who has been reduced to just two fights in 22 months, further inactivity was out of the question for someone who has had to overcome the frustration of having two lucrative opportunities against David Haye taken away from him due to injuries to the Hayemaker.
Whether it's in or out of the ring, the 26-year-old often leaves himself open to criticism but Fury's willingness to fight anyone in a brutal division is something that can only be praised, and while he openly admits to being in the sport for financial reasons more so than winning titles, it's a mentality that has moved the Mancunian to the brink of some high-profile showdowns in the next 18 months.
Firstly though, Fury must contend with the challenge offered by Hammer, a 27-year-old Romanian who has spent the majority of his career competing in Germany. Hammer has three defeats on a professional record spanning 20 fights, but he has emerged victorious in his last 10 contests, including a notable triumph over durable American Kevin Johnson. However, after going the distance with Konstantin Airich and Irineu Beato Costa Jr - opponents that Anthony Joshua and David Price have dispatched in three and six rounds respectively - his CV is unlikely to put too much fear into the British fighter.
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However, that in itself is a test for a fighter who needs to prove that he has overcome the complacency and showmanship that threatened to take away his unbeaten record earlier in his career, and developed into the ring general that imposed his style on Chisora with great effect in his last appearance. Chisora was an outsider in that fight, but no-one expected Fury, who had seen his preparations hindered by flu, to put on a jabbing masterclass to keep his opponent at bay and more of the same will be required against Hammer at London's O2 Arena on Saturday night.
Hammer will enter the fight with nothing to lose and everything to gain, something which is in sharp contrast for Fury, but it's factors like that can guarantee a different fight to what might have been expected. If Hammer had as much to lose as Fury, he would most likely sit on the back foot and try to absorb any punishment inflicted by Fury, but with the high stakes involved, Hammer won't be shy in letting his punches go in an attempt to not only throw Fury from his rhythm, but to land a punch that would see him gatecrash the top of the heavyweight division.
That will be something that trainer and uncle Peter Fury will be drumming into his fighter. Fury is intelligent enough to be aware of how Hammer will approach the fight, but he needs to ensure that he delivers a business-like performance to set up a showdown with either Klitschko or WBC title holder Deontay Wilder, potentially in a football stadium later in 2015. For now though, those aspirations need to be put aside, but if Fury applies himself in the correct fashion, he should be able to stop Hammer inside the distance.
The interim WBA middleweight contest between Dmitry Chudinov and Chris Eubank Jr headlines a stacked undercard in East London. After he suffered his first professional defeat to Billy Joe Saunders, all eyes will be on Eubank Jr to see if he has improved since being outclassed by Saunders during the first half of that match. The 25-year-old has suggested in the past that he could have the power to trouble any opponent, but he is likely to need more than explosiveness and a barrage of uppercuts to see off the undefeated Russian.
Frank Buglioni will be hoping to defend his WBO European super-middleweight belt against former Eubank Jr victim Ivan Jukic, while Bradley Skeete defends the same belt in the welterweight division against Anzor Gamgebeli. However, the most competitive match of a packed card could be the British and Commonwealth super-featherweight bout between Liam Smith and Joe Murray.