TYSON FURY says he plans to retire while Dillian Whyte is calling foul play and wants a rematch. It seems unlikely, when all is said and done, that Whyte will be Fury’s last opponent or Whyte will get anywhere near Fury again.
At 33 years old, Fury looks to be at his peak. It was suggested in this publication last week that both fighters might already be in decline. That could be the case for Whyte, 34, who was beaten conclusively and ultimately finished by a huge uppercut in round six. It was just the latest in a long line of punishing encounters that Whyte has endured, although this one, unlike the rest, was completely one-sided. His subsequent claim that the shove that followed the hellacious blow is actually what did the damage (because it caused him to hit his head on the canvas) is a terrible excuse but the type that often comes from the mouths of the brave but humbled boxer. Don’t judge him too harshly for that.
After all, Deontay Wilder, enraged after being beaten so conclusively by Fury in their rematch, struggled for a long time to come to terms with such a public battering. A thrashing so complete that it’s almost impossible for the proud but vanquished loser to comprehend. That horrible concoction of confusion, shame and disappointment should hereby be known as the Tyson Fury Effect.
It must be said that I was wrong to suggest the world heavyweight champion had seen better days. He is fighting with more spite and all-round excellence than at any point in his career. And though I don’t doubt for one second that he was sincere in his post-fight address to the media, when he essentially eulogised his life and career, it seems improbable that the lure of the ring, and the kind of high level combat in which he thrives so elegantly, won’t be able to tempt him back.
Fury insists he’s made a promise to his wife, Paris. A promise he plans to keep. It was one he made in the immediate aftermath of his third fight with Deontay Wilder only for Frank Warren to offer him a homecoming showdown at Wembley Stadium. He couldn’t turn that down, he said. It follows then that the promise of an even bigger fight – a legacy-defining fight – against the winner of the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch will be difficult to refuse, too.
For now, Fury believes that he can keep at bay the demons that turned his life upside down the last time he walked away from boxing. He will continue to train every day, as opposed to drinking himself stupid every day, and with excursions into WWE and some sort of exhibition with MMA star Francis Ngannou also on the cards, it’s certainly feasible that he could busy himself for the next six months or so. But what then? Peace will be almost impossible to find when the noise for him to return to boxing is at its most deafening.
It’s easy for a boxer to retire, particularly on the back of a triumphant performance at Wembley Stadium. Easy, too, when unwelcome questions about his relationship with Daniel Kinahan are still fresh in his mind. He no doubt feels that he can live without the kind of hassle that a fight week nearly always brings. He must also be tired of how difficult it is just to step foot in the ring these days, so complicated and insanely drawn-out are the negotiations behind the scenes. Floyd Mayweather went through a phase where he would call it quits after nearly every fight; he would say he had nothing left to prove, insinuate that he hated the ‘boxing business’, that he wasn’t appreciated and he had more money than he knew what to do with. Six months later, he was back inside the ring after realising that staying retired is significantly harder than retiring in the first place.
The hope is that if a Fury ‘comeback’ is to occur, it happens sooner rather than later. He’s in the midst of his peak but that pinnacle will not last long. It won’t be stretched out by inactivity or assisted by injuring himself in a wrestling ring.
We don’t need to see him return in several years when the gifts he currently has at his disposal have long since expired. When the burning ‘what if’ questions become too much to bear.