Now that Wladimir Klitschko has secured his impressive 50th knock-out victory, as well as his voluntary title defense, his next order of business would have to include one of three different opponents to retain one of his various sanctioning body titles:
IBF Mandatory Title Challenger – Tony Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs), WBO Number One Ranked Contender - Robert Helenius (17-0, 11 KOs), & WBA Regular Champion – Alexander Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs).
'The Nordic Nightmare,' Robert Helenius, is an unlikely candidate after having to undergo a surgical procedure to repair torn ligaments in his shoulder as well as parts of his collar bone suffered while training for his bout with top ten heavyweight Dereck Chisora on December 3rd of last year. As a result, Helenius is expected to be out of commission for the majority of 2012.
WBA 'Regular' Champ Alexander Povetkin is expected to defend his title against former lineal heavyweight champion Hasim "The Rock" Rahman sometime this summer and has publicly admitted that he does not intend to face Wladimir Klitschko at this time.
Logically, if Wladimir Klitschko fully intends to hold on to his coveted IBF strap, a return bout with top American heavyweight Tony Thompson would have to be his next opponent.
Klitschko trainer Manny Steward reiterated a similar statement shortly after his fighter's last bout.
"Most fighters would choose to relinquish a title rather than having to face a difficult opponent like Tony Thompson for a second time. They would rationalize the idea that they've already beaten that fighter and they have nothing to prove after stopping that opponent within the distance...but not Wladimir."
"Wladimir has much love and respect for the IBF. He feels that the IBF has been very good to him and he would like to hold on to their championship belt. He knows that this is not the most popular fight and definitely is not the easiest bout to consider, but Wlad plans to fulfill his obligations that come with being the IBF Heavyweight champion."
Since losing their initial contest in July of 2008, Tony Thompson has won five consecutive bouts by knock-out and has patiently waited for a return bout with the Ukrainian born champion.
He has been thinking of a return bout since being knocked out in the eleventh round of their first battle.
"The only thing that drives me is beating Wladimir," declares Tony Thompson. "Everything else has been secondary since getting stopped in front of my wife and my friends in Germany back in 2008. I have one drive and one goal right now...and that is to defeat Wladimir Klitschko to become the universally recognized heavyweight champion of the world."
"I've been very patient and have waited almost four years. I know I will beat Wladimir the next time we meet in the ring. As long as I'm 100% healthy going into the fight and I'm able to be me in the ring, I can't lose."
Although the 40 year old Thompson is hungry for a rematch, heavyweight contender Chris Arreola has publicly stated that he would like to be Klitschko's next opponent.
The fighter from Riverside, CA, recently stopped his opponent, Eric Molina, in the first round of their WBC title eliminator bout on February 18th.
But Tony Thompson claims that he won't step aside for anyone.
"Arreola is not going to be a Mormeck or a David Haye if he ever gets the opportunity to face Wladimir Klitschko. He is a very tough fighter who always shows up to fight. But, this is my time and my shot."
"So Arreola, you're just going to have to wait your turn. I've waited four years and I've worked my way back up to this position and I fully intend to get mine. I'm not stepping aside and I'm not doing anything to jeopardize my shot at the title," said 'The Tiger.'
"Anyone who wants to see Chris Arreola and Wladimir Klitschko fight needs to just forget about it at this point in time. I'm going to be the new heavyweight world champion. I am just a few months away from turning my dream into a reality."