The winner of this weekend’s heavyweight trilogy clash will leave the ring with marching orders already in place. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The WBC is prepared to order a mandatory title defense for whomever prevails in the third fight between England’s Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) and Alabama’s Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41KOs). The pair of heavyweight behemoths collide this Saturday on Pay-Per-View from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with Fury attempting the first defense of the WBC and lineal championship.
Waiting in the wings will be the sanctioning body’s interim titlist, with that belt at stake October 30 as Dillian Whyte defends versus Otto Wallin. The winner will learn their fate nine days later as to whether a mandatory title fight will be ordered. The only thing to prevent it is if the winner of Fury-Wilder III is able to secure an undisputed championship bout with recently crowned WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs).
“The WBC Board of Governors has reviewed the recent history in the Heavyweight Division,” the WBC revealed Wednesday. “Considering the long inactivity in the division due to the pandemic, ongoing legal processes, and covid 19 infections, the WBC has ruled that the winner of this fight will have 30 days to secure a contract to unify the Heavyweight Division against WBO-IBF-WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk in search of an undisputed champion in the division.
“If no unification bout is secured within that time, the winner of Fury v. Wilder 3 must then fight next against the then reigning WBC Interim Heavyweight Champion.”
A similar resolution was in place following the February 2020 rematch between Fury and Wilder. Fury won the bout by seventh-round knockout, nearly 15 months after the two fought to a draw in their December 2018 thriller in Los Angeles. The rematch came with a clause allowing the losing fighter to call for a third fight. Wilder exercised that clause roughly a week after suffering the lone defeat of his career, ending a lengthy WBC title reign which saw ten successful title defenses over a span of more than five years.
Rematch clauses are normally frowned upon by the sanctioning bodies, though permitted in this case while the WBC continued its cat and mouse game with ordering a mandatory heavyweight title defense.
Whyte served in the top spot since 2017, though never fighting for more than the WBC interim title. His shot at the real thing was finally within sight, only for Fury-Wilder 3 to suffer multiple postponements due to the pandemic along with a lengthy arbitration period. Whyte nearly blew his shot after suffering a stunning fifth round knockout at the hands of Alexander Povetkin last August.
Their rematch this past March 27 saw Whyte right the ship, dropping and stopping Povetkin in the fourth round to reclaim his belt and place among WBC-rated contenders.
The third fight between Fury and Wilder still hadn’t taken place by that point, with Fury instead working out terms for an undisputed championship showdown with countryman Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs). Those plans went up in flames after Wilder won his arbitration hearing to preserve his contractually guaranteed third fight with Fury, which was scheduled for July 24, only to be delayed by eleven weeks when Fury reportedly tested positive for Covid.
Fight week has finally arrived for the long-anticipated trilogy bout though with the heavyweight landscape undergoing significant changes.
Usyk dethroned Joshua via unanimous decision win September 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The bout was ordered as a WBO mandatory title defense, though Usyk still agreeing to fight options with Matchroom Boxing along with a rematch clause that Joshua will reportedly exercise.
Usyk-Joshua launched a significant period for the heavyweight division, which will continue with Fury-Wilder 3 and Whyte-Wallin. With the ruling handed down by the WBC, the good news is that there will be plenty of heavyweight action to look forward to in the future.
How it all plays out will depend on first what takes place this weekend in Las Vegas, then later in the month in the ring in London. After that, what can be worked out on the other side of the ropes will determine the heavyweight landscape in the months to come.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox