Tyson Fury left no doubt in his Saturday night rematch with Deontay Wilder, physically dominating the feared puncher from Alabama en route to a seventh round stoppage win, which came when Wilder’s corner compassionately threw the towel while watching their man get pummeled in the corner.
Fury’s win was so one-sided that it begs the question: is there a need for a third fight between the “Gypsy King” and “Bronze Bomber,” at least right now?
Maybe not, but it might be a moot point. It was well-publicized that Fury and Wilder had an agreement for a third fight in place, and if Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KO) is up to go right back in there with Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO) later this year, that’s what we’ll be getting.
Listen, trying to predict what Tyson Fury is going to do is a foolish game to play. The 31-year-old Fury won the WBC belt from Wilder last night, but he’s expressed little real interest in sanctioning body titles, dating back to his 2015 win over Wladimir Klitschko, after which he was immediately stripped of the IBF belt because he had a contractual rematch with Klitschko and couldn’t fulfill a mandatory order to face Vyacheslav Glazkov.
What did Fury do? Well, he scheduled that rematch with Klitschko, then canceled, and didn’t fight again for two-and-a-half years. It’s not a two-and-a-half years Fury remembers fondly, mind you, but over that period he clearly lost his taste for the politics of boxing, and when he returned, he had resolved to simply do things his way.
The WBC ordered a rematch between Wilder and Fury after their Dec. 2018 fight. Fury balked, instead signing with Top Rank and taking his own path. He said he’d get to the Wilder rematch in time, and he did. And now he’s convincingly won it and staked his claim as the clear best heavyweight in boxing today.
A third fight between Fury and Wilder isn’t WBC mandated (at least not yet), it was simply in the contract. Why not? The first fight did good business and this was expected to do dramatically better, what with the combined promotional reaches of FOX and ESPN in play. The fight did a record gate in Nevada for a heavyweight fight. It was a big story for weeks not just in boxing, but in sports, period.
And while Fury-Wilder 3 may not seem as though it makes the most sense from a boxing standpoint at this moment, there’s also only one fight that makes any more, and that would be Fury facing Anthony Joshua in a full heavyweight unification, which would do enormous numbers at any stadium in the United Kingdom, or in Las Vegas, for that matter.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is already out there pushing for it, but Eddie also knows very well that AJ has to fight IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev first, which looks slated for June, and then at some point he has a WBO mandatory in Oleksandr Usyk. You could give up a belt and fight Fury in a huge bout, but what makes the fight extra big is that it would be marketed as a true undisputed heavyweight championship fight, the first of its kind recognized since Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield in 2000. (In 2007, the WBO title became “officially” recognized as a fourth major sanctioning body, for whatever that’s worth.)
Joshua regained his belts in December, shutting out Andy Ruiz Jr in their Saudi Arabia rematch, six months after Ruiz shocked the world by beating Joshua in New York. Ruiz wanted to do a third fight with AJ, but there’s just no demand for it given how poorly Ruiz performed the second time around, and it’s not happening any time soon.
Fury-Joshua would obviously be a huge fight. Fury-Wilder 3 would, I think, still be a very, very big fight.
The only other scenario that seems like it could be really possible without a total curveball involves Dillian Whyte. Whyte has been chasing the WBC title for years, feeling he’s owed a shot. Fury now has that belt. If Wilder were to turn down the third fight for right now, a Fury-Whyte fight could be used to set up a Fury-Joshua fight, as Joshua and Whyte both work with Matchroom. We know Joshua will have to fight Pulev next, so it could be a way for them to both go out, win, and set up the full unification maybe in late 2020 or early 2021.
The most likely next fight for Fury is Wilder again. I think Deontay will go for it, and I think Fury will most likely honor it. But it’s Tyson Fury. There’s a non-zero chance he just ditches the WBC belt and does whatever he wants, like fighting Agit Kabayel or Oscar Rivas or Carlos Takam.
Time will tell. But I wouldn’t actually bet on anything in particular.
It’s Tyson Fury, after all, and there’s nobody in boxing like him these days.