WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is apparently ready to meet WBA, WBO and IBF ruler Oleksandr Usyk at Wembley on April 29 to contest the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.
According to a report by the Daily Mail, England’s national stadium — where Fury enjoyed a homecoming KO victory over Dillian Whyte last year — is now the frontrunner for the blockbuster clash after Saudi Arabia pulled out of the running amid doubts over whether a new stadium in Jeddah would be ready in time.
But boxing teaches long-suffering fans to proceed with scepticism at all times and, unfortunately, we’re going to have to tell you to hold your applause.
“If agreement with Usyk cannot be reached, Fury would be likely to fight there on April 29 against a designated challenger,” is a line that booms out of the Mail’s report, with echoes of the saga between Fury and Anthony Joshua at the end of 2022.
Following back-to-back points defeats to Usyk, Joshua emerged as a surprise candidate to face Fury in what would have been the biggest all-British world title fight in boxing history.
MORE: Anthony Joshua vs. Jermaine Franklin date, venue, titles, tickets and pro heavyweight boxing records
But Fury undermined the negotiation process by unilaterally announcing deadlines for signing a contract over social media. Eventually, the fight collapsed and “The Gypsy King” undertook a one-sided beatdown of old friend Derek Chisora, with their third professional meeting producing a risible spectacle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
So if we’re heading into tight deadline territory once again, who might Fury fight if terms cannot be reached with Usyk?
Joshua will face Jermaine Franklin in his ring return on April 1, while fellow Briton Joe Joyce — who shares both an undefeated record and a promoter with Fury — puts his WBO interim title on the line against towering Chinese veteran Zhang Zhilei on April 15.
WBA ‘regular’ champion Daniel Dubois will be sidelined until the second half of this year after suffering an ACL injury during his dramatic win over Kevin Lerena on the Fury vs. Chisora 3 undercard.
In short, if Team Fury cannot get the Usyk fight over the line, we’re looking at slim pickings and potentially some contrived attempts to drum up box-office interest.
Tyson Fury vs. Mahmood Charr
Charr has made some noise around taking on Fury for some time and was a notable minor character around the Fury/Joshua/Chisora fiasco, publishing social media videos calling out the champion — including one with him walking a lion.
Unfortunately, nothing the German-based Syrian has achieved in the ring suggests he deserves to share one with Fury. He is on a six-fight winning streak, but that spans seven years, features no victories of any particular note, and is marred by positive tests for steroids drostanolone and trenbolone in 2018.
That fact might check any enthusiasm around the well-muscled former WBA ‘regular’ champion looking the part. A career record of 34-4 (20 KOs) shows Charr has been handily beaten on the occasions he stepped up in class against Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, Johann Duhaupas, and Mairis Bredis.
At 38, there is no reason to expect a fight with Fury to go any differently. As a spectacle, it would probably be a bit like the Chisora fight, which is something no one needs.
Tyson Fury vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.
Former unified heavyweight champ Ruiz was slated to face Fury’s old rival Deontay Wilder, with the WBC ordering the clash as a final eliminator for a shot at The Gypsy King.
However, despite both operating under the PBC banner, purse disputes appear to be hindering the fight, with Team Wilder reportedly exploring other options. Meanwhile, the IBF has ordered February 28 purse bits for Ruiz to face Filip Hrgovic for its interim title.
There would be worse outcomes than Ruiz skipping eliminators and interims and jumping straight in with Fury. The Mexican-American shocked the world when he stopped Joshua in seven jaw-dropping rounds in 2019 before turning up out of shape for a landslide points loss in the rematch.
It would be rare to see Fury against an opponent with comparable hand speed, while Ruiz has shown his skills and chin to be in the world-class bracket. Nevertheless, Fury’s size advantage and all-round pedigree would make him a huge favourite.
Coming for them belts 🥊😤 pic.twitter.com/zMltRMDWwJ
— AndyRuizJr (@Andy_destroyer1) January 18, 2023
Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 4
If Ruiz is out of the picture for Wilder then the WBC’s number-one-ranked heavyweight contender could be without an opponent. If Fury can’t reach terms with Usyk, the WBC’s heavyweight champion would also be without an opponent.
It couldn’t happen, could it? Fury and Wilder produced a thrilling trilogy for the ages and both men have previously said they would be open to a fourth fight, despite palpable bad blood.
On the one hand, Wilder came closer than anyone to defeating Fury, sending him to the canvas four times over the course of their three encounters. On the other, Fury won comprehensively in the second and third meetings after Wilder was fortunate to escape with a draw the first time around. It is beyond doubt who is the superior boxer out of the two. We’d learn nothing new, but probably have quite a fun time in doing so.
Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou
After his win over Whyte, Fury and then UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou talked up the prospect of fighting one another. Fury also retired from boxing that night. A lot of contradictory things were getting said about an awful lot of stuff.
Fast forward to 2023 and Ngannou is now a free agent, having left the UFC, and is being courted by boxing promoters, most notably Eddie Hearn, who has held talks with the Cameroonian despite rightly stating any meeting between Ngannou and an elite heavyweight would be a “mismatch”.
It would also be a lavish money-making exercise. When Floyd Mayweather fought Conor McGregor, it made both men a lot wealthier and produced nothing in the way of a sporting spectacle. Those are the very same reasons why Fury vs. Nagannou could and shouldn’t happen.
Tyson Fury vs. Joseph Parker
Parker’s career looks to be on a down slope, with his brave but brutalising defeat to Joe Joyce last September leaving him at the wrong junction in a crossroads fight. But he was apparently the reserve opponent in the event of Whyte pulling out against Fury and is great mates with The Gypsy King.
That was enough for Chisora to get his shot and it’d be a better fight than that, even if we’re setting the bar achingly low here.
MORE: Joe Joyce calls out Oleksandr Usyk after knocking out Joseph Parker as Amanda Serrano wins in Manchester
Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk
Just look at all that up there. Fury vs. Usyk is the only real show in town and it has to happen, if only as a credibility-retaining exercise for boxing’s glamour division.
Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk told Boxing Scene that he is travelling to London this week and is “really optimistic” a deal can be reached, although he will push for a 50/50 purse split that is “more than fair”.
Bob Arum, who represents Fury globally, said such a distribution of income would be “not right” if the bout took place in the WBC champion’s homeland.
As usual, there’ll be a fair bit more nonsense to wade through before we get the fight we all want to see.