Tyson Fury did it again on Saturday, stopping Dillian Whyte on a wicked uppercut in the sixth round to retain his WBC title, continue on as the LINEAL!! champion of the world, stay undefeated, and maybe ride off into the sunset with 94,000 at Wembley Stadium cheering him on.
Fury was a true class above Whyte, who was and is a genuine heavyweight contender, a threat against just about anybody, but just not on that top level — and Fury is probably a good half-step above the rest of “that top level” in today’s game, too.
Fury (32-0-1, 23 KO) gave Whyte (28-3, 19 KO) credit after it was over, saying he believes Whyte will win a world title, but that “unfortunately for Dillian Whyte, he had to face me here tonight.”
“It’s no disgrace. He’s a tough, game man, he’s as strong as a bull and he’s got the heart of a lion,” Fury said in the ring. “But you’re not messing with a mediocre heavyweight. You’re messing with the best man on the planet, and you saw tonight what happened.”
Fury has said he’ll retire, but the messages have been mixed, especially in the post-fight. So what does he do now, and what comes next for the “Gypsy King”?
Retirement — for real
Don’t count this out entirely. Yes, it’s boxing, and retirements — including a couple of Fury’s in the past — quite often doesn’t stick for very long. Floyd Mayweather “retired” several times before actually not fighting again. I’ve been doing Bad Left Hook for over 15 years now, and it took a while to really learn to not write career retrospectives/farewells just because a fighter announces a retirement.
But Tyson Fury is a truly odd duck, even for a professional fighter, a business filled with strange people who make their living doing something that requires an unbelievable physical and mental toll, something the average Joe or Jane could just never pull off for any one of many reasons.
Fury likes money. Who doesn’t? But he’s not as driven by money as some at his level. There’s surely a point where it would be too much to turn down, and we’ll talk about that, but money alone really may not be the motivator for him.
He’s told his wife, Paris, that he’ll retire. He’d told her that after last year’s fight with Deontay Wilder, an absolute epic heavyweight slugfest, and he says he meant it, but that getting the opportunity to headline at Wembley was too good to turn down. So one more fight, he said. And now he’s done that.
He’s made a lot of money. He just added a lot more to it. He insists he’s saved well, set himself up long-term, and will never need to cash another big paycheck that comes with the risk of a proper prizefight.
At the very least, we probably see Fury take an extended break, at least a year but maybe even more than that.
For Tyson Fury, an eventual return may be more about the itch that many fighters get to return, and in his specific case, about maybe personally “needing” the structure that training and fighting brings to his mind. I don’t want to speculate on Fury’s mental state, but the man himself has said many times that boxing and training, staying in the gym, brings him peace. He’s been open about mental health struggles. And when he’s said that, the question of what happens when he’s not training and fighting has always been there, either asked directly to him or just what anyone would be thinking when he says it.
At 33, Fury has time to take time away and still be sharp if he wants to fight again. There are lots of variables in play with that, of course.
This is not meant to disrespect Oleksandr Usyk, who beat Anthony Joshua last September and will face him again in July, it seems. But if there’s one huge fight out there that by itself may bring Fury back, it’s not Usyk, it’s AJ.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KO) and Fury have gone back-and-forth over the years, with Fury often calling Joshua a “bodybuilder,” downplaying AJ’s ability, etc. In all honesty, it never seems terribly nasty from Fury, who for good reason at this point doesn’t think anyone is at his level, but there has always been the air to it that he clearly resents some of the fame and hype that Joshua has been given. Fury had some hype from early in his career, but it was hype he put out there more than anyone else by way of being a brash, 6’9” guy, and it came with a lot of doubters and critics, too.
Joshua has had doubters and critics, yes, but he’s also been positioned as a mega-star since his pro debut. The red carpet was rolled out for him after he won Olympic gold at London 2012. Eddie Hearn has built a business largely around Anthony Joshua. Fury didn’t get that.
Joshua has said it’s nothing truly personal with himself and Fury, and it probably isn’t, really. It’s more the situation. They are natural rivals in many ways, the top two British heavyweights of a golden era for British boxing, very different personalities, very different styles.
If Joshua beats Usyk, the call will come again for Fury vs Joshua. It’s not the fight it would have been prior to AJ losing to Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019, or the fight it would have been last year before it fell through and Joshua lost to Usyk. But it can still be a massive fight, much bigger than Fury-Whyte was as an overall “product,” even if you’re not going to get any bigger crowd-wise than putting 94,000 into Wembley.
But AJ has to do something he couldn’t do last year, and unless Usyk’s gotten notably worse and/or AJ notably better, there’s no reason to expect Joshua beats Usyk a second time around. Simply boxing more cautiously probably won’t do it against Usyk the way it did against Ruiz in that rematch, because I don’t think Usyk’s going to show up so fat he barely has the energy to lift his arms after the fifth round.
As much as I’d love to see Fury and Usyk, two absolute weirdos, interact with one another, I don’t think Usyk and some belts alone will inspire Fury to fight again. I don’t think “undisputed” matters much to Fury at all, and I don’t think the money for Usyk would be near what it would be for Joshua, though it wouldn’t be small potatoes, either.
Francis Ngannou, WWE, and the world of entertainment
Fury and UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou have talked about a potential fight for a while, and Fury had Ngannou in the ring post-fight to ask him about his penis size and bring up the idea again. It’s probably not near as likely as either man might want, simply because UFC figure to stand in the way, even if it’s just by being such a pain that it’s sidelined indefinitely.
Fury has also talked about doing exhibitions and getting “that Floyd Mayweather money,” which goes against the idea that money doesn’t motivate him, but I suppose it’s more that money plus the significant risk of a real prizefight doesn’t motivate him. To take the real risk, it needs to be about something more than the money. But to go have a for-show “fight”? Sure, that’s just money and a good time. Tyson Fury against any number of people — Logan Paul! Lennox Lewis! Mike Tyson! — could happen in that setting.
A return to WWE, where Fury had an awful match in Saudi Arabia about two-and-a-half years ago, also seems like a good bet to happen.
He and Scotland’s Drew McIntyre have talked up doing a match, which could be something for WWE’s upcoming trip to Cardiff, Wales, on Sept. 3. That’s a big event for the company, hyped as “the first major WWE stadium event to be held in the United Kingdom in more than 30 years,” dating back to the massive SummerSlam ‘92 event. And Fury vs McIntyre might be something that makes sense for them on that show.
Fury is no Bad Bunny or Logan Paul as a
professional wrestler WWE Superstar, in part because it’s clear he doesn’t give a damn about being any good at it, and in truth his appearance didn’t seem to do much for WWE, but sticking it on a big show in the UK might make Fury seem like more of a star than he did last time.
He’s also mentioned doing movies, where he might slide in OK as a bit player in a Guy Ritchie movie or something straight to streaming with Mel Gibson, but I don’t think he’s about to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson it up and be leading a Disney franchise or anything.
Maybe he’ll record an album just because he can. Maybe he’ll pop up in six months saying, “Retired life isn’t for me, let’s have a fight.” Maybe retired life will suit him just fine and he’ll be happy doing the bin runs and hanging out with his wife and kids, fully content in his career.
You never know until you know. What’s next for Tyson Fury is up to Tyson Fury, which is not a bad spot to find yourself in in life.