TYSON FURY has had a strange and troubled reign as the world heavyweight champion.
It’s impossible to forget the night in Dusseldorf when Fury won the title. You can’t downplay the achievement. Wladimir Klitschko was one of the most dominant champions of his era. For 10 years he looked near enough invincible. Yet Fury applied himself to the task with complete confidence, few could have expected him to showboat, hold his hands behind his back and baffle and befuddle the vastly experienced Ukrainian, winning well enough to get a points decision in Germany.
Tyson shed one of the three heavyweight world titles he won almost at once. Klitschko exercised his option for a rematch, that meant Fury could not meet the IBF’s mandatory challenger. That belt fell vacant, to be won by Charles Martin who was then swiftly toppled by fellow Briton Anthony Joshua.
The mega-fight of this era ought to have been Anthony Joshua meeting Tyson Fury to unify world heavyweight titles (perhaps eventually that could still happen). But instead Fury, over the course of the last 10 months, has fallen from grace.
An alleged anti-doping violation hung over his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. A hearing with UK Anti-Doping was scheduled to take place – but only after that fight had taken place. (Wladimir did insist on VADA testing for the rematch.) That situation needed to be resolved but was swiftly over taken by events. Fury didn’t appear for a press conference to announce the rematch and then withdrew due to a medical condition. He has spoken of his struggle with mental health issues. It also emerged that Fury failed a VADA test for cocaine and he did discuss recreational drug use as well as his mental health issues in an interview afterwards.
He was in an increasingly untenable position, with many expecting the WBO and WBA to strip their titles from him or make him champion in recess. Fury took control of the matter himself and ended his championship reign, announcing late on Wednesday night that he would vacate both world title belts.
Now Fury’s main focus must be his own recovery. But the heavyweight division is in a state of flux. What happens to these newly vacant world titles will be fascinating. New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, who was once in pole position to challenge Joshua, met with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and he could fight Andy Ruiz for the vacant WBO belt, potentially in his New Zealand homeland. Anthony Joshua’s team have been in deep negotiations with Wladimir Klitschko’s representatives to fight the Ukrainian this year. This news could hasten the progression of Joshua-Klitschko. Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, wants to make the Klitschko fight a world title unification. That presumably is possible now the WBA strap is free. Joshua-Klitschko, if it can be made, is expected to take place in December.