June 14, 2024

Tyson Fury is ready for his return to the ring. After many delays and negotiations, Fury is set to face WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte this Saturday. The pair will meet inside of Wembley Stadium with Fury’s championship on the line with the winner hopeful to meet the winner of Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2 later this year to unify all four major titles.

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 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.

Wilder pushed up to the deadline to sign the contract but finally put pen to paper to cement the fight, which will take place April 23 at Wembley Stadium in Wembley, England.

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.

Fury has continued to press the issue, saying he believes the fight will happen in February or March 2023. Given Ngannou’s contractual situation and the reality of what a fight between the two would look like even if Ngannou gets free of the UFC, it’s incredibly unlikely Fury’s plans come to fruition.

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.

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