It’s easy for folks to have their hopes up. 

Lineal and WBC heavyweight king Tyson Fury and his number one contender, unified WBA/IBF/WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk, have kept the chatter up with exchanges on social media over the last week. Fury is coming with the insults and expletives. Usyk is responding with “belly.” April 29th is being thrown around and, not for nothing, that’s six weeks away and counting.

There has been no formal announcement, no site declared, and the clock is ticking.

It’s okay to be skeptical.

The most significant fight that can be made at heavyweight is obvious. It’s been obvious for a while. The 34-year old Fury (33-0-1, 24 KO) playing with dates and percentage splits is at least more interesting than his semi-regular, totally sincere, ‘retirements.’ The 36-year old Usyk (20-0, 13 KO) has fought only once a year since 2019 but his two wins over Anthony Joshua and epic run through the cruiserweight division before that speak to a fighter who maximizes minutes.

Fury-Usyk is the fight.

Everyone should feel free to think about alternatives if it doesn’t happen next. 

It’s a good thing for fans that there are alternatives to get excited in a heavyweight division with a healthy combination of big names and new faces. There are also some of the more realistic options that might be less exciting but ultimately get us to Fury-Usyk.

Of the realistic alternatives, there is the WBA mandatory situation that got hopes up in the last week. The WBA was prepared to order a showdown between Usyk and their secondary titlist, 25-year old Daniel Dubois (19-1, 18 KO), in their ongoing, meandering effort to shed some of the excess trophies the WBA grew fond of.

Let’s put aside how absurd boxing has to be for Dubois to be more immediately situated than Joe Joyce (15-0, 14 KO) after Joyce stopped Dubois in 2020. Fury and Usyk declaring their intent to fight puts Dubois on the backburner for now. If Fury-Usyk falls apart, Dubois could have his number called.

How might that help us get to Fury-Usyk later?

While Fury-Usyk might be the most significant heavyweight right now, it’s probably not the richest and both men want healthy purses for a showdown. Usyk is a road warrior and would likely travel to see Dubois. Like Fury, Dubois is UK-based. Could a win over Dubois in Fury’s backyard help to add a few more cents to an undisputed showdown?

It’s a pretty classic boxing circumstance if that’s where we end up. 

Dubois would be a sizable underdog and it’s not a fight that will get the world excited, but it would sell tickets in the right location. Usyk’s leading IBF and WBO contenders, 30-year old Filip Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KO) and 33-year old Andy Ruiz (35-2, 22 KO) could then be new obstacles to unification as their waits extend from there. Usyk could always give up a strap along the way, but then the Fury fight loses whatever additional appeal an ‘undisputed’ clash brings to the table. 

Ruiz is the second-ranked WBC contender for Fury, behind 37-year old Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KO). Fury likely has more mobility than Usyk as far as alternative foes. Fury could always face Joyce, assuming Joyce wins his next against Zhang Zhilei in April. Fury-Joyce would be a huge fight in the UK and one that would be appealing for fans. Fury-Wilder IV seems unlikely but stranger things have happened. 

Wilder-Usyk would be a more interesting fight, and arguably the best alternative for Usyk economically and in terms of fan interest, but the rankings (among other things) would have to shake up some to remove some obstacles. 

33-year old Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22 KO) versus Fury is probably the richest fight in the heavyweight division, even after Joshua’s two losses to Usyk. Joshua’s progress under new trainer Derrick James will likely not be long in unfolding. Joshua’s market value is going to mean a big fight sooner than later. 

Now look at the ages of all these heavyweights. While big men might not age like some of their smaller counterparts, this era at heavyweight isn’t new anymore. There’s a whole lot of guys closer to 35, or 40, than long-term sustainability probably allows for. 

If Fury-Usyk doesn’t happen next, in April or a date not long after, there’s a chance the window for the fight narrows by a lot. This moment might be the best chance there is to make this particular fight.

Moments slip away in boxing all the time.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at