TYSON Fury could face heavyweight ruler Wladimir Klitschko in the next 12 months, according to the Ukrainian.
The undefeated Morecambe man became the new WBO Intercontinental Champion with a fifth round stoppage of New Yorker Vinny Maddalone on Saturday night.
And on the same night WBA, IBF and WBO champion Klitschko retained his belts against Tony Thompson in Berne, Switzerland.
The resort’s 6ft 9in giant, still only 23, is undefeated in 19 fights after his latest victory in Clevedon, Somerset, and looks on track for a showdown with the man now unbeaten in eight years.
Klitschko told Channel 5: “I think we could end up fighting very soon, probably next year. I doubt it’s going to happen this year but probably next year.
“I think he will make a lot of problems for a lot of guys and from fight to fight he’s just going to get better.”
Fury for his part believes he has what it takes to beat the 36-year-old.
He said: “I think I can win because Wladimir Klitschko hasn’t fought anyone like me in his whole career.
“He hasn’t fought anybody the size of me, the way I fight, the ambition I bring, the youth, the power and the determination.
“There’s never been anybody like me before. I’m unique.
“The only thing he’s got on me is experience and having lots of big-time fights.
“When I get the experience, and with another few fights I should be ready to take on anybody, I think it will be another matter completely.”
In the best of shape of his life after a six-week training camp with Uncle Peter Fury in Belgium, Fury reverted to a traditional right-handed stance against Maddalone and controlled the fight from the off against the “real-life Rocky Balboa”.
Working behind his left jab, the Morecambe giant threw some impressive combinations as his movement and speed proved too much for the 38-year-old.
Referee Ian John-Lewis wisely waved the fight off in the fifth with the 43-fight veteran suffering from a nasty cut around his left eye.
Fury looks set to return to the ring in November, with his promoter Mick Hennessy hoping to set up a fight with former WBC Light Heavyweight champions Tomasz Adamek, who lost to Wladimir’s brother Vitali last September.
Hennessy said: “The world title fight is getting closer but we’re still one fight at a time.
“He’s 23 years of age and to pull off a performance like that (against Maddalone) was phenomenal.
“I’d say two, maybe three fights before the Klitschkos. We’re going to go into that fight when he’s ready to do a job on him.
“I’m looking at Adamek next. I like him and it could be a massive fight, a fantastic fight, over here or in the US.”