Tyson Fury is now confirmed for an Oct. 28 fight in Saudi Arabia with Francis Ngannou, which is being treated with very careful language so as to not, for instance, say that it may be an exhibition that won’t count on anyone’s official record, only that it will look mostly like a normal boxing match.
Fury’s WBC title probably won’t be on the line in the fight — we stress the “probably” because things change when money’s involved and you can really do whatever you want — but it also won’t be in any danger of being stripped.
If you’re a boxing fan who pays attention to this sort of thing, you probably didn’t really wonder about that, but the WBC have announced that Fury has “special permission” for this fight instead of making a defense against a boxer in an official boxing match:
Mauricio Sulaiman said that Tyson Fury received special permission from the WBC to fight Francis Ngannou as there is no official challenger.— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) July 11, 2023
He mentioned that Fury tried to close fights against Ruiz, Joshua and Usyk but no agreement was reached.
“Trying” can take on a lot of meanings in boxing, so technically this is probably true. Whether the issue was more on Fury’s side or everyone else’s all the time is probably up for debate, but at the end of the day, there’s a simple question: Who cares?
Fury’s going to fight Ngannou because he’s going to get an absolute ton of money to do so. We’ve known both of them have wanted to do this for over a year. Now it’s going to happen. Fury was not going to fight a legitimate boxing contender in a title defense otherwise.
The other question then is how seriously you take boxing’s overflowing laundry basket of “world championship” belts, and whether or not it even matters to you that Fury’s WBC belt is “tied up.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the heavyweight division has begun to move along and the schedule has started to take shape. Oleksandr Usyk will face WBA mandatory Daniel Dubois on Aug. 26 in Poland, Anthony Joshua will rematch Dillian Whyte on Aug. 12 in London, Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce will fight again on Sept. 23 in London, and we’ll see what happens with the likes of Deontay Wilder, Andy Ruiz Jr, and others.