Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are done with their trilogy, settling things with an incredible heavyweight war on Saturday night, where Fury stopped Wilder in the 11th round to retain the WBC and Ring Magazine heavyweight titles.
So what’s next for the two heavyweight stars? One may have a pretty clear direction — he at least has a clear directive — while the other is in a wild card spot for his career, though not in a bad way.
What next for Tyson Fury?
Most will want to see the undisputed title fight with Oleksandr Usyk, but it’s just not happening. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed on Saturday during the Smith-Fowler card that Anthony Joshua has triggered his rematch clause, and Usyk-Joshua 2 will come next spring.
That was always going to happen, and the idea that Joshua should “step aside” and allow Fury-Usyk is really flawed once you get past the surface. First of all, Usyk accepted a rematch clause he didn’t have to accept, that’s a fact. It was not required, the Joshua side asked for it and the Usyk side agreed. Joshua has no reason to step aside; he’s got a big money fight guaranteed and a chance to get his belts back, too.
Second of all, if he were to do so, AJ would want a contractual guarantee that he gets the winner. And Fury-Usyk would most likely have its own rematch clause. So you’re tying everyone up for like two years of guaranteed fights, while Joshua would probably take a relatively safe fight or two to stay busy and wait his turn. It’s not overall as exciting a proposition as it might seem just to get Fury-Usyk.
We may still get Fury-Usyk, mind you, just not next. If Usyk beats Joshua again and Fury hasn’t lost, then that becomes The Fight. And I suspect it would happen. These are not guys who avoid challenges.
Just about a month ago, Fury laid out a plan for what he wanted to do after Wilder, and the first name on his list was Dillian Whyte, who will be Fury’s mandatory challenger should Whyte beat Otto Wallin on Oct. 30. The WBC ordered that the Fury-Wilder winner had to fight either Usyk or the Whyte-Wallin winner next. It’s not going to be Usyk, so the Whyte-Wallin winner is probably it.
If it’s Whyte, then you get a big fight for the United Kingdom. It could happen in Vegas, but Fury said he’d like to do it in the UK in a big stadium. If it’s Wallin — because Whyte has been in this “if I win the next one, I get my shot” spot before and it didn’t turn out great — then you get a rematch of a surprisingly intriguing Fury-Wallin fight from 2019.
What next for Deontay Wilder?
First off, you have to say up front that there’s a real chance Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KO) will never be the same. In fact, it’s a borderline guarantee that he won’t be, as he took an enormous amount of punishment. That’s the flip side of the “what a brave, gritty performance” coin — Wilder took a ton of damage in this fight, and had taken plenty in the second bout with Fury, too.
This time, no one threw the towel. It just wasn’t going to happen. And I don’t say things like this lightly because boxing is a serious sport with real consequences: Wilder fought like he was willing to die in the ring on Saturday night if that’s what it was going to take. We didn’t get that far, thankfully, but he’s going to need some real recovery time.
Deontay Wilder is also 35 years old, has been to the top, and has now been told in back-to-back fights that he’s not getting to the top again, unless Tyson Fury goes away. Maybe Deontay looks at what he’s achieved in his career and says, “That’s enough.” If he did that, he’d walk away knowing he put it all on the line against the best opponent he could face, and gave a performance for the ages, one that is going down in the history books and deserving of immense respect.
But if he keeps going, yeah, there’s plenty he can do. In-house at PBC, you’ve got Andy Ruiz Jr, Luis Ortiz is still knocking around, Charles Martin, and two guys who also won on Saturday, Robert Helenius and Frank Sanchez, who would come at a Wilder fight from different angles, one a veteran and the other a rising contender.
There will probably be a good amount of heavyweights out there who’d like to take a crack at Deontay — it’s a harsh, cynical world, and Wilder may be seen as damaged goods now. Whether the goods are so damaged that anyone other than Tyson Fury is going to survive Wilder’s right hands is another story, but there will at least be that perception, I’m sure.
In short, what Wilder does from here is really hard to guess. He won’t want to take some piddly rebound fight, if he gets in again you can expect it to be someone who at least has some credibility, even if it’s a Charles Martin sort who isn’t in anyone’s top 10 but is a big guy and can punch, a former titleholder on a winning streak.