On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Tyson Fury reaffirmed his status as the heavyweight champion in an emphatic fashion.
There were few British fans present to witness the carnage at the T-Mobile Arena, but Fury v Wilder III will be remembered as one of the greatest, most thrilling fights in boxing history.
“I believe I beat any man in history,” Fury declared, and it’s difficult to see who could beat the Gypsy King after another jaw-dropping performance made iconic by the WBC champion’s guts and glory.
After completing his trilogy with Wilder, fans are left wondering what Fury will do next.
‘I’m going to celebrate my victory.’
In the post-fight news conference, Fury, 33, was evasive about his plans, refusing to say who he wanted to face next.
“I’m going to bask in my victory before I think about other men,” he said. Bob Arum and Frank Warren, his co-promoters, were equally cautious about saying too much.
Fury has a number of options. He has the option of pursuing an undisputed fight with Oleksandr Usyk or waiting to see how the WBO, WBA (Super), and IBF champion’s rematch with Anthony Joshua plays out.
There’s also the matter of a WBC challenger, with Dillian Whyte taking on Otto Wallin later this month. If a unification fight cannot be arranged, Fury will be ordered by the WBC to fight the winner of that fight immediately.
Fury’s next fight will almost certainly be a mandatory defense.
British fans would love to see Whyte go toe-to-toe with Fury, but the Bodysnatcher must first defeat Wallin and has previously suffered derailment losses, such as last year’s defeat by Alexander Povetkin.
Fury hasn’t fought on British soil in three years, but his US promoters Top Rank will almost certainly agree to a fight with Whyte in the UK early next year. If Wallin wins, Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn confirmed a rematch clause for Whyte, which would complicate matters even more.
Warren stated prior to the fight that Fury’s next fight would be a homecoming.
“I don’t know what [the WBC] is going to do but there’s no rush because he needs some time out now and whatever he wants to do is what we’ll do,” he said after the victory.
It’s been Joshua’s catchphrase, but it appears the only certainty is that if there is to be that elusive undisputed fight, Fury will be one-half of it.
Fury’s team has already suggested to Joshua that he step down, but the British heavyweight has flatly refused. Joshua has invoked the rematch clause, and while fans will be hoping for Fury to be given the opportunity to hold all of the belts, it is unlikely that this will be the next step.
“Perhaps we can make the winner of Usyk vs. Joshua II,” Warren said of the fight.
“Autumn, perhaps this time next year.” They’re talking about holding the fight in March, so they’ll need six months after that, so that’s when it’ll happen. It would be ideal if Anthony Joshua did not agree to a rematch so we could get right to it.”
Team Fury may want Joshua to step aside, but if he recovers to become a three-time world champion, the all-British fight with Fury will be rescheduled.
While Fury remained tight-lipped about his next move, serious questions will be raised about Wilder’s future. The American will be devastated to have floored his bitter rival twice in one round – four times in three fights – and still come up short.
Wilder’s power shone through again, as it had in the first fight, but Fury was up to the task.
“I did my best,” Wilder admitted, “but it wasn’t good enough.” “I don’t know what happened. I knew he did certain things in training, and I also knew he didn’t come in at 277 pounds to be a ballet dancer. He came to lean on me and rough me up, and he was successful.”
Wilder needed to regain his confidence after such a humiliating defeat 20 months ago. That confidence appeared frail, given that it was built on bizarre excuses, and it is safe to say that it has now been shattered after Fury delivered another knockout.
Until Fury, Wilder had a perfect record in 40 fights and appeared unbeatable.
“I’ve always said I’m the best in the world, and he’s the second-best,” Fury said after the fight, “and he’s the second-best.”
Many will agree with Fury that Wilder demonstrated his ability to adjust in the third fight. But it remains to be seen whether Wilder, who is usually overconfident, can deal with being second best.
He held the WBC title for five years, and while it appears unlikely that he will reclaim it while Fury is still active, Wilder has plenty of fights to choose from.
The heavyweight landscape can shift in an instant, and Usyk’s victory over Joshua shattered the division. It has been a balancing act for Joshua to keep three world titles in his possession, and if he is unable to reclaim them and an undisputed fight cannot be arranged, the belts could scatter across the division.
Wilder, on the other hand, will turn 36 in October. He has now taken significant punishment in back-to-back fights, with two knockouts. Is retirement a wise decision? Wilder’s legacy is not in tatters, despite Fury’s taunts. He came as close to defeating Fury twice as anyone could have imagined. A dangerous, one-of-a-kind puncher fell just short of what many will consider the era’s best.
Fury has the final say on Wilder until he speaks.
“It was a great trilogy and you need a good dance partner for trilogies and he has been a good dance partner but there is no rematch clause, it is done,” Wilder is finished. Deontay Wilder is no longer alive.”