What's next for Tyson Fury and the heavyweight division?
After his win over Deontay Wilder, an undisputed title fight with Anthony Joshua makes sense for Tyson Fury, but a few obstacles remain.
After Tyson Fury’s sensational TKO win over Deontay Wilder on Saturday night, only one fight makes sense for the heavyweight division: an all-British clash between Fury and Anthony Joshua for all five world titles.
There are, however, a few obstacles for both Fury and Joshua to overcome for that fight to be made.
The first is the rematch clause that was inserted into the contract for his fight with Wilder.
The defeated American has 30 days to decide whether he wants to take up the option for a trilogy fight, which would automatically become Fury’s next bout.
Most fighters would probably pass on a rematch, given how comprehensively Wilder was beaten on Saturday night (and arguably in his first meeting with Fury as well).
As Wilder has said himself, though, his immense power means he only needs two seconds to win a fight, so he will likely back himself to find a big right hand in a third meeting with Fury.
The new champion will probably be busy until after the summer, then, and Joshua might also have a couple of fights to navigate in the upcoming months.
Although Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn immediately called for a showdown with Fury, he’s fully aware that Joshua has commitments to fulfil.
The most pressing of those is a fight against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev.
The IBF have ordered Joshua to fight the Bulgarian next or forfeit his belt, which he regained along with the WBO and WBA straps against Andy Ruiz in December.
Given that Joshua and Hearn have both said the goal is to become undisputed champion, there’s almost no chance of them forfeiting that title.
And while Hearn has suggested a deal may be worked out with Bob Arum, who manages both Fury and Pulev, to allow Joshua to take the fight with Fury first, it’s much more likely that he faces Pulev next, with 20 June at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the rumoured date and venue.
Another of Joshua’s titles is also in jeopardy, as the WBO have ordered him to defend that belt against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
It has been agreed that the IBF defence will come first, but Usyk must eventually get his shot at the WBO belt or Joshua – assuming he beats Pulev – will have to vacate it.
It’s possible Joshua and Hearn will relinquish that belt in order to fight Fury. Hearn represents Usyk, so he would be more confident of setting up a fight between Usyk and Joshua for all the titles further down the line.
But while a fight between Joshua and Fury is huge regardless of how many belts are at stake, an undisputed title fight between two British heavyweights is an unprecedented opportunity that the promoter will be very reluctant to miss out on.
For that reason, Joshua’s team will do all they can to keep all their titles until a fight with Fury becomes feasible.
Fury doesn’t have any mandatories to contend with yet, although WBC interim champion Dillian Whyte has been waiting a long time for his shot at the belt.
The WBC have been very reluctant to grant the 31-year-old an opportunity, though, and he reportedly won’t be made an official mandatory challenger until at least Februrary 2021.
So there is a small chance that Fury and Joshua will meet right at the end of 2020 or early next year, even though there are a couple of other obstacles in the way.
British broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport would have to come to some agreement over who would host the pay-per-view, and the same applies in the United States, where Joshua fights exclusively on DAZN and Fury on ESPN+.
And Hearn will have to do business with arch-nemesis Frank Warren, who represents Fury in the UK.
Those issues should get sorted out, however. This event would be so huge, with so much money to go around, that it is in everyone’s interests to make it happen.
Hearn has assured fans that a fight between Fury and Joshua will happen, and that’s a promise he will likely keep.
Just don’t expect it to happen any time soon.
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