Undefeated heavyweight Tyson Fury returns to the ring against Christian Hammer in the New Year
Last Updated: 26/12/14 1:02pm
Tyson Fury is set to face big-hitting Christian Hammer in the New Year at London's O2 Arena.
Fury will risk his mandatory status to Wladimir Klitschko’s WBO crown when he faces the German-based Romanian on February 28.
Klitschko is due to defend his WBA, WBO and IBF titles in April against an as yet unnamed opponent before taking on the winner of Fury-Hammer in the summer.
I could have taken an easy job at the O2 Arena to keep my position safe for my world title fight against Klitschko, but that's not what Tyson Fury is about or what the public want to see.
British and European heavyweight champion Fury returns after stopping Dereck Chisora in 10 rounds last month to extend his unblemished record to 23 straight victories.
Former WBO European champion Hammer, who has won 17 of his 20 fights, 10 via knockout, outboxed rising prospect Irineu Beao Costa Jnr last time out, winning all 12 rounds to hand the Brazilian his first defeat.
Fury said: "I've said all along I'm not like these other fighters in the division who pussyfoot around, take soft touches and call themselves fighters.
"I could have taken an easy job at the O2 Arena to keep my position safe for my world title fight against Klitschko, but that's not what Tyson Fury is about or what the public want to see from someone who has promised from day one to win the world heavyweight title."
"On paper, it's a dangerous job against Hammer. He's highly ranked, he brings a big punch with him, he'll have ambitions of his own to beat me and grab himself a world title shot against Klitschko, and I'm sure he'll be full of confidence coming over here."
Hammer said: "I'm grateful for this fantastic opportunity to fight Tyson Fury and I'll be in the best shape of my life.
“This is a golden opportunity for me to get the number one position to fight Klitschko for the world title if I can beat Fury.
“I love to fight bigger, taller, men and Fury is perfect for me. It will be a hard fight, but I've got every confidence that I'll surprise everyone with a win in his backyard."
Promoter Frank Warren said: "Fury will have his hands full with Hammer, who could create a huge shock if he wins.
“It's a risky fight for Fury, who's within touching distance of Klitschko and the world title. But Fury needs to keep active by fighting until Klitschko gets his fight in April out of the way and then comes to the table to negotiate the fight with Fury or the fight goes to purse bids.
“Fury needs to concentrate on Hammer and leave the talk of Klitschko until after he's dealt with Hammer."