By Jake Donovan
As the search continues to find an opponent for Tyson Fury’s next scheduled fight, the heavyweight contender and his team have been forced to perform some damage control.
The unfiltered Brit is no stranger to controversy, with hurling colorful insults practically a part of his daily routine. However, recent comments made in the direction of the World Boxing Council (WBC) managed to land Fury in hot water, as the unbeaten 27-year old took exception to recent developments in their heavyweight rankings.
“I’ve beaten everybody they put in front of me, but the WBC have done a little sly trick,” Fury alleged on Buncey’s Boxing Podcast earlier in the month. “[T[here were three people eligible to fight for the vacant WBC title. One of them was me because I beat Kevin Johnson in a WBC eliminator. Another one was Bermane Stiverne because he beat Chris Arreola in an eliminator. And Chris Arreola won a semi-final eliminator against Seth Mitchell.
“Instead of letting me fight Stiverne for the vacant WBC (title), they’ve only gone and put him against a man he’s already beaten in his last fight comfortably. So I don’t know what’s happening there; someone’s paying a lot of money to somebody. They’ve frozen me out there.”
The comments were made prior to Fury’s placement on the February 15 show at Copper Box Arena in London, England. The short-term plan is to get a win, having not fought since last April, and then proceeding towards a potential rematch with Dereck Chisora, who tops the bill versus Andriy Rudenko.
By the time all of that plays out, the winner of such a fight could be looking at a mandatory title shot versus whomever is crowned in the yet-to-be-scheduled vacant title fight rematch between Stiverne and Arreola. Cognizant of this fact, Fury took a moment to step back, gather his thoughts and make amends.
"I would like to apologize to the WBC for the comments I made and any implications that resulted from them," Fury said in a statement released through his press agent. "Through no fault of my own I have been unable to fight since April with fights in September and February [Writer’s note: both were scheduled versus David Haye, who withdrew due to injury on both occasions] being cancelled. The entire situation and inactivity has left me extremely frustrated.”
Fury’s aforementioned win over Kevin Johnson last year landed the 6’9” heavyweight one fight away from potentially challenging then-heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko. However, the Brit chose to instead face Steve Cunningham in a semi-final eliminator sanctioned by the IBF, in a fight that marked his U.S. debut. Fury climbed off the canvas to stop the former cruiserweight titlist in seven rounds, but—due to the sanctioning of another organization—he was demoted in the WBC rankings.
The win over Cunningham was supposed to lead to a final IBF elimination bout with Kubrat Pulev, another unbeaten heavyweight who has struggled to secure opponents in recent times. Fury’s team passed on the fight, instead moving laterally towards a more lucrative showdown with Haye, only for the fight to twice get postponed before being scrapped altogether.
Now met with the reality of other heavyweights such as Arreola and Deontay Wilder (with whom Fury has engaged in an ongoing profanity-laced social media feud) jumping the line, Fury allowed frustration to settle in and eventually build towards natural rage.
With the focus now on securing an opponent for next month’s Copper Box appearance, the heavyweight promises to move forward with his career and attempt to fulfill childhood dreams in the process.
"The WBC title has meant a lot to me since I was a kid and I always wanted to fight for that green WBC belt and put my name with the greats like Ali, Leonard, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis who have held it,” Fury states. "That passion to hold that belt and the frustration of being forced to be inactive for so long sometimes leads me to say things that I shouldn't and I would like to take this opportunity to retract those comments I made.
"I do not believe that the WBC or any of its members acted improperly in the heavyweight division, but having fought a WBC eliminator (which I know and understand was not a final eliminator), and with the title being vacated, I genuinely believe I am the best heavyweight and deserving of a shot."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox