Less than two weeks after his dominate victory over the dangerous Deontay Wilder, the newly-minted heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury implied that he would retire after he finishes the two fights on his current contract with Top Rank during a recent interview on British television.
At 31, Fury is still in the prime of his career and is riding a wave of momentum following arguably the biggest win of his career with the seventh round stoppage of the formerly undefeated Wilder. The eccentric Fury had indicated prior to the heavyweight clash last month that he would indeed hand up his gloves at the conclusion of his current deal, but considering how much hype the Wilder bout received from the ESPN promotional push and thus the exposure it provided him, could Fury really exit the sport when he finishes another pair of contests?
With a razor-close and controversial draw in their previous bout, the Wilder-Fury rematch had the most hype for a heavyweight match the sport had seen in years, but Fury’s superior technique and physical style proved a more effective strategy than Wilder’s one-dimensional, albeit still dangerous punching power. When Fury landed a sharp straight right hand to the side of Wilder’s head, the Alabama native crashed to the canvas in a heap before he staggered to his feet to beat the count and survived the round. Still, the damage was done and with a stream of blood from his ear, Wilder was on borrowed time. As the contest progressed, Wilder looked unsteady and lost as to what to do next with the more aggressive opponent. Finally, as Deontay was getting battered with punches, his corner threw in the towel mid-way through the seventh round to halt the fight.
As much as Wilder protested, his trainer undoubtedly did the right thing, and there was no reason to risk further injury, especially when the extent of the damage to his ear was unclear during the fight. Per the contract signed before the return bout, Wilder selected the rematch clause, which will see the two heavyweights meet again for the trilogy fight in July. In the aftermath of the heavyweight collision, Wilder cited his 40 LBS entrance gear that he wore to the ring as the reason that he lacked energy during the course of the fight. While Wilder has to say something to attempt to sell the third fight, an event where he will receive a 40% share of the purse because of the loss in the return bout, it’s hard to believe that entrance gear was the excuse for a lackluster performance. Granted, it’s theoretically possible, but the punch that put Wilder on the mat is probably the actual reason the fight tilted into Fury’s favor after the third round.
Tyson Fury said in the media interviews before the fight that he planned to be more aggressive in the ring to avoid another draw, and he used that aggression to land punches against Wilder. As I wrote in an article prior to the bout, the fight was a chance for Wilder to prove he could compete against the top-tier opponents, but his limited skill set didn’t allow him to be effective against Fury because once he sustained too much damage in the early rounds, Wilder didn’t have the power to end the fight with one of his signature knockouts. As of right now, unless Deontay Wilder somehow adds a completely different offense to his game plan in the next six months then it’s doubtful that he will be victorious in the trilogy bout. Quite frankly, unless Wilder adds more traditional boxing skills to his strategy then he will only have the potential KO power that he brought into the ring just two weeks ago, and after such a lop-sided win for Fury, it’s doubtful that promoters can sell another $80 Wilder-Fury fight to the general public.
So, assuming that Fury wins the trilogy bout, he would have one fight left in his career, which prompted many to call for a Fury/Anthony Joshua fight in a European showdown that would probably draw a record-setting gate. Joshua, a skilled technician, surged to prominence when he defeated dominate champion, Wladimir Klitschko in 2017. Since that time, Joshua has fought the majority of his bouts in stadiums, drawing tens of thousands of fans to watch the contests live in his native country. Aside from the fluke KO loss to Andy Ruiz, a defeat that he later avenged, Joshua has put himself in the conversation for the best heavyweight of the modern era. Considering that Joshua himself has the drawing power to host a stadium event in England, adding Tyson Fury to the equation sets up for a mega payday for everyone involved. But, perhaps that might be the reason Fury could call it a career after that bout?
It’s possible that Fury, win or loss, takes the major cash he will earn from a boxing match with Anthony Joshua and use that finanical security to retire. However, the concept of a boxer retiring is almost mood because most stayed retired until their next fight. Often, “retirement” is only a prop to sell a comeback fight so at this point, it’s very skeptical that Fury would actually exit the sport. That being said, he might take a year or two away from the ring to pursue more work with the WWE, which could use him in a variety of roles, especially with a potential European tour. In some ways, Fury might replicate the path of Floyd Mayweather, he claimed that he quit boxing and did a match at Wrestlemania against the Big Show before he put the gloves on again.
With Joshua scheduled to fight in June, and Fury penciled in to return in July, it would technically be possible for the two British boxers to sign a deal to fight at the end of the year, but that seems a little rushed, especially because boxing tends to attempt to let fights to build to garner hype for the eventually pay-per-view. If I had to guess, I would say that Fury continues to compete as a boxer while he’s still in the prime of his career and can still demand top market value. At the same time, it does create the intriguing scenario that with WWE on his radar, the company might be able to sign one of the most recognizable figures among the current landscape in sports. Granted, Fury would have to be used in limited angles, but a few select matches could benefit the company.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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