The long-awaited trilogy between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder has been stalled several times during the pandemic, and it now appears the WBC heavyweight champion Fury is counting out the fight altogether.
Just as Fury shook the heavyweight picture by stopping Wilder in February, the boxer is now proclaiming that the third meeting with Wilder won’t take place anymore at all. Instead, Fury will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent on British soil on Dec. 5 before moving on to a fight with unified champion Anthony Joshua.
“The Gypsy King is coming home to the United Kingdom. See you all in December,” Fury wrote Monday on Twitter after The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger reported Sunday that Fury is foregoing a fight Wilder after the scheduled Dec. 19 date was pulled, and a deadline to reschedule expired Friday, Oct. 9.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman was surprised to hear of the development from Fury.
“It was breaking news to me,” said Sulaiman during a virtual roundtable with select media on Monday. “Usually we do not go by news that is not confirmed. The WBC has not received any formal communication whatsoever. What we know as of right now is that the fight is on for Dec. 19. But we also have not received a sanction request. It is only informal communications from both sides. Over the weekend, I started receiving many calls, especially from the U.K. media, stating that the fight was not happening. But we have not heard anything officially. We’re reaching out to both camps to see where the third fight stands exactly right now.”
Sulaiman said he’s not familiar with the specifics of the contract Fury and Wilder have with one another, or what they can contend with.
“What I know about the third fight between them is that it is scheduled and structured. But I will reach out. Every time someone goes out on social media, whether it’s confirmed or speculation, when it’s a big name like Tyson Fury, everything starts to move and ruffle up,” said Sulaiman. “The main thing [for the trilogy is] contractually. If there is something that legally binds, then it’s a different story. We have been very clear about the flexibility that we’re putting into each weight category. When you have a pandemic, it’s hard to have things set in stone. You have to be flexible … What I have heard up to now, is that Fury-Wilder III is still on. I would be speculating if I said something differently.”
Sulaiman added that there currently isn’t a mandatory opponent in the heavyweight division for Fury to face, but he’ll reevaluate if there is another scenario in the future Fury.
Fury has said several times in recent months that he’s ready to get the show going with his career and return the ring. With Wilder no longer in his plans, and a mega-fight with Joshua hanging in the balance, it appears Fury is now looking to schedule for a stay-busy kind of fight.
Sulaiman could not confirm whether or not a Fury opponent other than Wilder or Joshua would still command the opportunity for the WBC title.
“When fighters are champions, they want to defend their title. Sometimes there are non-title fights, but they are very rare,” said Sulaiman.
Sulaiman ultimately understood Fury’s exasperation.
“We’re all frustrated,” he said. “We’ve been inside four walls for such a long time. There are so many things going on in everyone’s mind. There is so much depression [for everyone] on not being able to carry on a normal life.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.