Tyson Fury is looking likely to return to the ring in July, with ESPN.com’s Mike Coppinger reporting that two dates are being held at Wembley Stadium, and that Andy Ruiz Jr and Zhilei Zhang are both in the mix.
The tentative dates are July 15 and July 22. Fury last fought on Dec. 3 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, predictably dominating Derek Chisora in a third fight between the two friends that was truly pointless other than fattening some bank accounts.
Fury (33-0-1, 24 KO) would be defending his WBC heavyweight title, and staying sharp after talks fell apart for an undisputed title fight against WBA/IBF/WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk. That fight is still possible for late this year, with recent reports that Middle East money might stage an enormous show with Fury vs Usyk and Deontay Wilder vs Anthony Joshua on the same bill.
The 34-year-old Fury against either Ruiz (35-2, 22 KO) or Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KO) isn’t as big a fight as Usyk, but probably easier to make. Joe Joyce does have a rematch clause with Zhang, who upset Joyce on Apr. 15 in London, but that could be easily worked out with Joyce also being a Queensberry Promotions fighter, and frankly not seemingly entirely set on exercising that clause in the first place.
Ruiz, 33, last fought in Sept. 2022, beating Luis Ortiz over 12 rounds in a closely-scored fight that saw Ortiz down twice. It was a second straight win for the former titleholder after his embarrassing performance in a rematch loss to Anthony Joshua in late 2019. Ruiz has seemed sort of half-in, half-out with his boxing career since then, fighting once in 2021 and once in 2022.
Zhang, 39, may be the more interesting fight in a lot of ways. He’s bigger, he’s a southpaw, and he’d be coming in hot — especially in the UK — with the upset win over Joyce. That’s not to say Ruiz doesn’t still carry some name value.
Zhang reportedly wants to fight Fury in China, but unless someone is going to put major money behind that, the fight probably makes more sense for Wembley.