Editorials

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE GYPSY KING?

Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions

Oscar Wilde once said, “There are only two tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants. The other, is getting it.”

After his ill-fated second fight with Tyson Fury (now 31-0-1, 22 KOs), Deontay Wilder (now 42-2-1, 41 KOs) fired his then-assistant trainer, Mark Breland. The former Olympic gold medalist and professional world title challenger had thrown in the towel while Wilder was taking sustained abuse in a corner.

The referee, Kenny Bayless, appeared poised to step in and halt the abuse at any second, regardless of Breland’s intercession. However, that moment led to Breland being the object of Wilder’s scorn.

Mark Breland threw in the towel for a beleaguered Wilder in round 7 of his second fight with Fury.
Photo: Ryan Haney/ PBC

Wilder had stated that, as a warrior, he’d earned the right to go out on his shield. As a man, and a top-level fighter, he had most definitely earned that right. Five knockdowns (for both men), and 11 rounds later, he got his wish. In a heavyweight war that was this generation’s answer to the Thrilla in Manila, Tyson Fury emerged as the victor.

So, after a trilogy in which Fury decisively won two fights, and arguably won the third, where does he go from here? The first, most obvious answer is one that everyone can empathize with. Tyson stated in his post-fight presser that, after spending only two weeks at home over the last six months, he needed some time to decompress. That would be more than understandable even if his wife hadn’t recently given birth.

Despite being the most exciting it has been since the 1990s, today’s heavyweight division is tied up at the moment. All of the titles – Fury’s WBC and Ring belts, as well as Oleksandr Usyk’s (19-0, 13 KOs) newly-won WBA, IBF and WBO belts – are effectively locked up for the next six months, due to mandatory obligations. Per their contract, Usyk will grant Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) a rematch at some point this coming spring.

Fury, for his part, is slated to make his next title defense against the winner of Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) vs Otto Wallin (22-1, 14 KOs). That matchup is scheduled for October 30th, on DAZN. It’s an intriguing matchup and, no matter who wins, there will be a built-in storyline for the victor as he takes on Tyson.

Whyte has been the WBC mandatory for the better part of five years. Wilder, when he was the champion, showed little interest in giving him a shot, despite it being deserved. Whyte’s title shot was even further delayed after he suffered a brutal one-punch knockout at the hands of Alexander Povetkin (36-3-1, 25 KOs) last summer. He avenged the loss with a knockout of his own in March, sending the older Russian into retirement.

Whyte got revenge against Povetkin in their rematch this past Spring.
Photo: Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing

Wallin has already fought Fury, in September of 2019. In that fight, the Swedish southpaw opened a horrific cut over Fury’s eye. He was able to rough the bigger man up throughout as a result; many at ringside speculated over whether the fight would be stopped. The Brit pulled it together in order to win a unanimous decision.

Fury’s mandatory defense against the Wallin/ Whyte winner would likely be scheduled around April or May. He will either face a man who has chased the WBC belt for the better part of five years, or give a rematch to someone who nearly stopped him on cuts.

Oleksandr Usyk will defend his new titles in a rematch against Joshua this Spring.
Photo: Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing

Whyte is opening as a deserving favorite, but Wallin is definitely not to be overlooked. His size and strength can trouble anyone. Joshua losing to Usyk last month reminded us that upsets DO happen. It only takes one punch to rattle the foundations of any weight class; this is especially true at heavyweight.

Boxing hasn’t seen an undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era (2007 – present). The last undisputed champion in the sport’s marquee division was Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs,) who unified the titles in 1999.

All things going well, we should hope to see the winners of Fury vs Whyte/ Wallin and the rematch between Joshua and Usyk square off later next year.

That said, boxing fans should know enough about the sport to not hold their collective breath.

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