Tyson Fury’s next fight: TEN options after the WBC opt against Dillian Whyte mandatory

Tyson Fury’s immediate future has taken an unexpected turn, with his next opponent now unclear following the WBC’s decision not to order a fight against Dillian Whyte at their annual convention in Mexico City on Tuesday night. 

Whyte, his promoter Eddie Hearn and frankly the majority of the boxing world had expected the WBC to name the Body Snatcher as Fury’s mandatory challenger ahead of an eagerly-anticipated stadium fight next year. 

However, with Whyte in the midst of an ongoing legal case against the WBC – which he ironically launched last year as his frustrating wait for a title shot continued to drag on – the governing body refused enforce the fight while his arbitration case remains unsettled. 

Tyson Fury is on the hunt for an opponent after finishing his rivalry with Deontay Wilder

Dillian Whyte was expected to be named mandatory challenger but the WBC refused to do so due to the Brit's lingering legal case

Dillian Whyte was expected to be named mandatory challenger but the WBC refused to do so due to the Brit’s lingering legal case

Fury’s ultimate goal is to become undisputed heavyweight champion, but with the remaining WBA, WBO and IBF straps tied up as Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk go to battle once more early next year, he must wait his turn. 

Instead, Fury now plans an interim fight in the new year, potentially against a lesser opponent following his blockbuster trilogy bout against Deontay Wilder, before taking on the winner of Joshua and Usyk. 

Fury would have to face a top-15 ranked opponent in the case of any voluntary defence, with the WBC revealing Wilder, Joe Joyce, Andy Ruiz Jr, Joseph Parker and Frank Sanchez as their top five. Sportsmail evaluates a number of potential contenders below. 

Dillian Whyte 

We start with Whyte, who isn’t necessarily out of the running just yet. But first, let’s quickly set the scene. 

After defeating Wilder on October 9, the WBC revealed they would give Fury 30 days to agree an undisputed showdown against Usyk, and if not possible he would be forced into a defence against the ‘interim’ title-holder – Whyte. 

The WBC tweeted their latest heavyweight rankings, without naming a mandatory challenger

The WBC tweeted their latest heavyweight rankings, without naming a mandatory challenger

Whyte was initially scheduled to square off against Otto Wallin, with the winner going on to get a mandatory shot at Fury, as confirmed by the WBC. However, he pulled out due to a shoulder injury, with Hearn revealing they would now focus on Fury. That was before Tuesday’s news. 

Despite the WBC bombshell, Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum has revealed a bout with Whyte is still possible.       

‘That was appropriate,’ Arum said of the ruling. ‘Fury may end up fighting Whyte, we’ll see. But it won’t be with the requirement of the WBC.

‘Whyte is an excellent fighter. When the time comes, and it will come soon, for Tyson to figure out his next opponent then Whyte should be at the top of the list.’

The issue for Whyte is that he would, in this scenario, be a voluntary challenger, rather than mandatory, giving him significantly less financial bargaining power.

WBC rules state, with Whyte being an interim champion, that the fight would have been ordered on a purse split of 55/45 in Fury’s favour, though this can be altered at their discretion. Yet, Fury and his team reportedly want 80 per cent, and they’d now carry all the leverage in a voluntary bout.  

Oleksandr Usyk   

Usyk is, of course, tied up with his rematch against Joshua and almost certainly won’t be next for Fury.  

However, upon the decision made by the WBC, Arum has once again reiterated his desire for Joshua to step aside and allow Fury to face the Ukrainian wizard. 

He said: ‘The alternative is that if Joshua decides not to exercise his rematch against Usyk and decides to step aside, the fight we would like to make is between Usyk and Fury.

Oleksandr Usyk claimed a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Anthony Joshua

Oleksandr Usyk claimed a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Anthony Joshua

‘That is a fight to unify the titles once and for all. Then Joshua can fight the winner of the undisputed fight.

‘Whyte can stand in line and fight the winner ultimately. That’s what Tyson would like. And I represent Tyson. That is his preference.’

Joshua and Hearn have already categorically ruled this option out, with Usyk’s team also insisting they are more than happy to take the contractually-agreed rematch.  

Fury and his team have made it clear they want to be active having fought just once since February 2020, and with a bout against Usyk or Joshua several months away, an interim fight seems the way to go.  

Anthony Joshua

Again, with Fury wanting to stay active following his win over Wilder, it seems highly unlikely his next opponent will be Joshua. 

The former champion’s sole goal is to regain his belts and become a three-time heavyweight world champion, even embarking on a US tour as he weighs up his coaching options. 

The Brit is faced with the unenviable task of getting into the ring once more with Usyk, who put in a masterful performance as he furthered his legacy by becoming a unified heavyweight champion, having previously held all the belts simultaneously at cruiserweight. 

A beaten Joshua has activated his rematch clause, with the fight against Usyk set for next year

A beaten Joshua has activated his rematch clause, with the fight against Usyk set for next year 

Both Fury’s and Joshua’s camps have insisted a future fight can happen, even without the belts on the line. However, another Joshua loss would all-but rule out the possibility of a bout between the two happening in the near future. 

It remains possible that Joshua could beat Usyk before Fury enters the ring once more, potentially setting up a summer clash next year. However, as stated, Fury is looking for an interim bout early next year. 

Joe Joyce

Now, a fight that potentially could happen is Fury vs Joe Joyce, which would certainly be an intriguing scrap. 

Joyce, who is the WBC silver champion and also holds the Commonwealth and WBO international heavyweight titles, had been gunning for a fight with Usyk for some time. They were in talks to square off while Joshua and Fury were negotiating an undisputed showdown, before Wilder’s arbitration case came into play. 

The unbeaten 36-year-old is the mandatory challenger to Usyk’s WBO belt, but with a rematch with Joshua to come next spring, before the undisputed bout comes into play, he will likely be waiting some time for a shot. Furthermore, the WBA and IBF mandatories are due to be called before a WBO defence.  

A faster route to world title glory for Joyce could therefore be a shot at Fury, with ‘The Juggernaut’ certainly deemed a legitimate contender. 

Joe Joyce has been patiently waiting for a shot at Usyk but could be in line to face Fury next

Joe Joyce has been patiently waiting for a shot at Usyk but could be in line to face Fury next

Fury himself believes Joyce could be the man to cause a major upset in the heavyweight division. 

‘I was talking to Tyson about him,’ promoter Frank Warren told Sky Sports of Joyce. ‘Tyson said that he’s the best one out there. That’s what Tyson’s opinion was.

‘Can he go all the way? Yes he can. He’s got a good ticker, a big heart. He’s strong, he walks forwards, he is The Juggernaut.’

Joyce last fought in July, claiming an impressive stoppage win over Carlos Takam. The Brit is currently without an opponent and, being well placed in the WBC rankings, could be a genuine option. 

Andy Ruiz Jr

Another intriguing option is Andy Ruiz Jr, who also sits high in the WBC rankings as he continues his comeback trail following the woeful rematch defeat to Joshua in 2019.  

There, Ruiz Jr put in a thoroughly disappointing performance, coming in highly overweight after celebrating his initial victory over Joshua, with the Brit dancing his way to a comfortable unanimous decision victory. 

The 32-year-old is determined to turn things around, however, after making his long-awaited return against Chris Arreola in May. 

Andy Ruiz Jr namechecked Fury when discussing his potential upcoming opponents

Andy Ruiz Jr namechecked Fury when discussing his potential upcoming opponents

Ruiz Jr managed to secure a points win but was dropped early and hurt on numerous occasions by his 40-year-old opponent. 

The Mexican is looking to get back into the ring around January, a timeframe that could work well for Fury. He recently named Adam Kownacki, Charles Martin and Luis Ortiz as possible opponents. 

However, with Kownacki falling to his second successive defeat to Robert Helenius, that’s now not a viable option. Meanwhile, ESPN have reported Martin and Ortiz are set to square off in the New Year, which would make them unavailable.   

Ruiz Jr has also namechecked Fury, Whyte and Wilder as potential opponents.  

Joseph Parker

Joseph Parker is an interesting pick. The New Zealander has plenty of options moving forward, ranked well across the governing bodies. 

But his immediate future will depend on the outcome of his December 18 rematch bout against Derek Chisora, whom he narrowly overcame in their first fight back in May. 

Parker has undergone a rebuild since his back-to-back defeats against Joshua and Whyte, since stringing together five successive victories. Another win over Chisora could setup an enticing 2022 ahead. 

Joseph Parker is targeting a massive 2022 ahead but must first get through Derek Chisora

Joseph Parker is targeting a massive 2022 ahead but must first get through Derek Chisora

He joined up with respected trainer Andy Lee just weeks before the first Chisora bout and the pair have now had a number of months to work on their craft in what could be a successful paring. 

Whether Parker would actually fight Fury is perhaps the stickler here. The heavyweight duo are very close; they’re currently training together in Morecambe.   

Speaking to Sportsmail, Parker has also distanced himself from a potential fight, insisting he’s not currently in Fury’s plans.  

Frank Sanchez

Also a potential prospect is Frank Sanchez, who is starting to make a name for himself in the heavyweight division. 

Making his professional debut only in 2017, Sanchez is thriving under the guidance of trainer Eddy Reynoso, who also coaches pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez. 

The 29-year-old is aiming to become Cuba’s first-ever heavyweight world champion and actually fought on the undercard of Fury’s trilogy bout with Wilder. 

Frank Sanchez, who trains alongside Canelo Alvarez, is rising up the heavyweight division

Frank Sanchez, who trains alongside Canelo Alvarez, is rising up the heavyweight division

Sanchez floored opponent Efe Ajagba on the way to a one-sided points win, with scores of 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92. 

At 6ft 4in and weighing 240lbs for his most recent outing, Sanchez would be at a significant size disadvantage if he were to fight Fury. It may also be a difficult fight to promote, particularly in the UK.   

That’s as a typically risk-averse Sanchez is more likely to utilise his slick boxing skills than opt for an all-out war, which could lead to a more cagey affair. Additionally, he doesn’t yet carry the name or popularity that some of the others on this list do.  

Derek Chisora 

A third fight between Fury and Chisora seems unlikely but it’s not totally out of the question. 

Again, it would depend on the outcome of his December 18 bout against Parker. Chisora, now working with Dave Coldwell, would certainly be a viable option – in terms of ranking, anyway – should he defeat the New Zealander. 

It would also be a fight that could easily be marketed for Fury’s first outing back in the UK since 2018, with Chisora being a household name, one who would certainly generate a lively build-up. 

Fury already has two victories over Chisora on his resume, one in 2011 and the other in 2014

Fury already has two victories over Chisora on his resume, one in 2011 and the other in 2014

Additionally, Fury has indicated he wants a third and final bout with his once great rival before hanging up his gloves. 

Speaking over the summer, Fury outlined his intentions to defeat Wilder, before a heading into a double-header with Joshua in 2022 and a final hurrah against Chisora. Perhaps the Gypsy King could simply shuffle things around. 

That said, a fight against Chisora compares poorly to a bout against Whyte. Fury has convincingly beaten his British counterpart twice already and would likely do so again. 

Robert Helenius

Perhaps more likely than Chisora is a bout against Robert Helenius, who has brought himself back into contention with recent back-to-back wins over Kownacki. 

Helenius is another who fought on the undercard of Fury vs Wilder, in a bout that ended via disqualification. 

At 6ft 6in and with none of his last four victories going beyond eight rounds, Helenius does have the capability – and experience – to at least ask some questions of Fury, though perhaps that’s where the competitiveness would end. 

Helenius’ manager Markus Sundman recently stated that their focus is currently a shot at the winner of Joshua and Usyk, however. The heavyweight’s win over Kownacki was a WBA final eliminator, meaning he’s expected to be named mandatory challenger next. 

Robert Helenius has brought himself back into contention with a pair of Adam Kownacki wins

Robert Helenius has brought himself back into contention with a pair of Adam Kownacki wins

‘Right now we are focused on the WBA mandatory position,’ Sundman told Sky Sports.

‘Robert fought a WBA elimination bout in March 2020 against Adam Kownacki, and he placed a stamp on that victory in the rematch on October 9. 

‘Usyk should really be Robert’s next bout. There is no more deserving challenger in the WBA. Charr, Bryan, Dubois, are they more deserving? I think not.

‘Sometimes you have to dig your heels in the ground and fight for something important, and I can’t think of anything in sport more important than the heavyweight championship.

‘We will do what is necessary to assure Robert’s rightful position as Usyk’s next WBA mandatory.’

David Haye 

Though a bout between David Haye and Fury would certainly generate public interest in abundance, it’s surely more of a fantasy than a reality. 

Since Haye last secured a professional win in 2016 against the little-known Arnold Gjergjaj, he has been stopped twice by Tony Bellew, faced a plethora of career-threatening injuries, retired and most recently gone the distance with friend and businessman Joe Fournier in an eight-round exhibition. 

It doesn’t quite spell out ‘world title fight against Tyson Fury’. Yet, the ‘Haymaker’ insists he’s up for the challenge.

‘That big fat dosser, I know his kryptonite, I know what he can’t handle,’ he said before Fury’s trilogy win over Wilder. And after? ‘It’s 100 per cent serious. I said the only person I’d put my body through a comeback for would be for the No 1 heavyweight on the planet.’  

David Haye, 41, has recently outlined his desire to take on the heavyweight No 1 Fury

David Haye, 41, has recently outlined his desire to take on the heavyweight No 1 Fury

The pair certainly have history; Haye has pulled out of bouts against Fury twice in the past, first after suffering a ‘deep cut’ in the final spar of his training camp, and second after requiring reconstructive shoulder surgery that would keep him out for the best part of four years.

Since then, Fury has risen to the elite of the sport. Also since then, after Fury defeated Wladamir Klitschko in 2015, he insisted he would never again entertain a fight with Haye. 

‘David Haye will never get a fight against Tyson Fury after what he did to me,’ Fury said. ‘I remember him saying that he’d never give me a payday. Well, the shoe is on the other foot now.’ 

Again, it’s a fight that would make a lot of money, and it’s one Fury would surely win. But, unfortunately for the Haymaker, it seems unlikely.  

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