WBC champion Tyson Fury may only hold one of the four recognized world championships at heavyweight, but he’s universally accepted as the top man in the sport’s most prestigious division. With being “the man” comes a host of complications, however, and Fury’s immediate future is one loaded with possibilities and obscured by potential complications.
While all eyes were on a four-belt unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk, both men have business to take care of before potentially facing off. And handling that business with mandatory opponent Dillian Whyte is the next bit of business for Fury.
Let’s take a look at where things stand with the sport’s best big man early in 2022.
Will Tyson Fury have a chance to unify the heavyweight titles in 2022?
There were two paths that could lead Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) to a unification bout with WBO, WBA and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk. In one scenario, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte could have accepted step-aside money to allow the unification bout to go ahead. All four sanctioning bodies would happily bump aside any mandatory opponents in favor of a four-belt unification bout. That appeared to be in the works before it all fell apart on Jan. 27.
With the step-aside fees falling through, the other scenario to get to Fury vs. Usyk and a four-belt unification bout is much more simple. Fury has to beat mandatory WBC challenger Whyte, and Usyk will have to rematch Joshua with the IBF , WBA and WBO titles on the line, as was contractually stipulated by the terms of their first fight.
Where things stand with Dillian Whyte
Whyte once spent more than 1,000 days as either the top-ranked contender or mandatory challenger to the WBC championship, eventually losing his status when he was shockingly knocked out by Alexander Povetkin in August 2020. Whyte would avenge that loss in March 2021, regaining the WBC interim title and his status as “next man up.” Unfortunately for Whyte, there have constantly been bigger fights the WBC was willing to accept rather than enforcing his status as mandatory over the past several years, mainly a series of fights between Fury and Deontay Wilder.
This being boxing, the WBC has alternated between ordering Fury vs. Whyte to finally happen, suggesting they’d allow Fury to accept a non-title fight next and moving back to ordering a purse bid with an unprecedented 80/20 split in favor of Fury. That purse split had been an issue for Whyte and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, who had said a deal would not get done with that split in place.
Despite that, and after multiple postponements, the WBC held a purse bid on Jan. 28, which was won by Fury co-promoter Frank Warren’s Queensberry Boxing with a bid of $41,025,000. The date and venue still have to be set, but the financial terms of engagement are now set.
Is Fury going to fight Francis Ngannou?
Let’s get this out of the way. Despite the talk from both Ngannou and Fury, this fight is not happening in the near future. Ngannou is in a contractual dispute with the UFC that could drag out a year or more. In addition, Ngannou’s coaches have suggested it would take years of dedicated boxing training to be ready for such a challenge. Not to mention that after his most recent win, Ngannou noted that he suffered a torn MCL and injured ACL in training camp that will require surgery. Still, as both sides continue to bring up the other, a potential fight will keep grabbing headlines.
Even if a unification bout with the winner of the Usyk vs. Joshua fight doesn’t come together, a fight with Ngannou isn’t coming any time in 2022 or 2023.
Expected date to return
Late March was the original plan for Fury’s next fight. Of course, that was before the negotiations and purse bid for a fight with Whyte were bumped multiple times and news broke of Joshua potentially stepping aside to open up the Usyk fight. Things change quickly in boxing, which could mean a March 26 date is locked up by the end of January or that Fury’s next fight takes place over the summer. Had the fight with Usyk materialized, the plan was for it to happen in a June meeting in Saudi Arabia. The date and venue for Fury vs. Whyte should come together quickly.