5 Best Opponents for Tyson Fury's Next Fight

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 3, 2022

5 Best Opponents for Tyson Fury's Next Fight

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: Tyson Fury of Great Britain poses with the WBC belt during the weigh-in ahead of the heavyweight boxing match between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte at BOXPARK on April 22, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    OK, so not all trilogies will be the stuff of legend.

    Tyson Fury's threepeat with countryman Derek Chisora ended as nearly everyone outside of Chisora's team assumed it would, with the WBC heavyweight king retaining his belt with a methodical 10th-round TKO at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London.

    Fury won a wide 12-round decision over Chisora in 2011 and stopped him after 10 rounds of a rematch three years later. The third fight came together after Fury's would-be dates with Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk fell through.

    Because of, well...boxing.

    But while Fury-Chisora won't be recalled in quite the same way as Ali-Frazier and Gatti-Ward, getting over the third hurdle does clear the still-reigning Gypsy King, now 33-0-1, to handle new or unfinished business with a collection of other heavyweight characters.

    The B/R combat sports team used the opportunity to create a list of fighters we think would make the best opponents for Fury's next appearance, which would in theory come some time in the first third or at least first half of 2023.

    Scroll through to see what we came up with and leave a comment with views of your own.

5. Deontay Wilder

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    Boxing: WBC Heavyweight Title: Tyson Fury (R) in action vs Deontay Wilder at T-Mobile Arena. Paradise, NV 10/9/2021 CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X163827 TK1)
    Set Number: X163827 TK1

    Fury just can't quit Deontay Wilder.

    Though they've already fought three times and the reigning champ has ended the last two with KO wins, there's still an insistent drum beat that keeps the possibility of a fourth get-together alive if results fall in a certain direction.

    Thanks to his 43-0 record and 42 KOs against fighters not named Tyson Fury, the now-37-year-old former WBC champion is No. 1 in the organization's latest rankings.

    He's expected to fight No. 2 man Andy Ruiz Jr., a former champion of the other major sanctioning bodies, in 2023 to crown a mandatory challenger to Fury's throne.

    Fury has forecasted a Wilder victory against Ruiz and welcomed the idea of another date with the "Bronze Bomber" to continue a series that's yielded nine knockdowns. Five came in the most recent fight in October 2021, when Fury climbed off the floor twice to ultimately finish Wilder in Round 11, that was deemed the year's best fight by The Ring.

    "If he beats Ruiz, guess who's back again? Big D," Fury told SecondsOut. "I don't mind because the man wants to fight. It's a great fight. ... Who wouldn't want to watch that again?"

4. Francis Ngannou

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    Champion Cameroon's Francis Ngannou takes questions in the press room after defeating French Cyril Gane in their UFC 270 championship fight in Anaheim on January 22, 2022. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
    FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

    If Fury finds himself without a committed opponent next spring because of, well...boxing, he's still got the option to steer down the novelty road paved by Jake Paul.

    Lest anyone forget, following a springtime defeat of Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium, Fury called UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou to ring center during his post-fight interview and went public with a good-natured challenge that had been stirring for weeks.

    "This is going to be a very special fight," he said. "Like never before seen in the history of our sport. We're not talking two light guys, 140 pounds. I'm 270; he's 270.

    "It's going to be an explosive fight when it happens."

    Granted, it's now been more than seven months since that exchange, but Fury's choice of adverb does leave the door open—at least for the near term, if not the long term—particularly if Ngannou chooses to prolong his feud with the UFC.

    And if you think a matchup of active heavyweight champions in their respective sports wouldn't sell, think again. A crossover bout between welterweights Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor garnered more than four million pay-per-buys in 2017—two years after Mayweather retired as a full-time fighter.

    "[It's a] sign of the time and a compliment to the appeal of MMA," former HBO boxing voice Jim Lampley told Bleacher Report. "Heavyweight power creates an opportunity McGregor didn't have versus Mayweather."

3. Joe Joyce

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Joe Joyce punches Joseph Parker during the Vacant WBO Interim World Heavyweight Championship fight between Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker at AO Arena on September 24, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    At the intersection of new and intriguing opposition stands Joe Joyce.

    Standing 6'6" and weighing 255.25 pounds for his last fight, the London-born slugger has emerged as a legitimate heavyweight player in the last 24 months thanks to a string of impressive KOs.

    He stopped a previously unbeaten Daniel Dubois in 10 rounds in November 2020, followed it with consecutive erasures of Carlos Takam and Christian Hammer over a combined 10 rounds, and earned the WBO's dubious "interim" world title with an 11th-round finish of former top-tier champion Joseph Parker two months ago.

    The latest win got Joyce to 15-0 as a pro and was his 14th KO in a career that began in 2017 after he earned a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

    It also got him onto Fury's radar and prompted the WBC champion to suggest that if a fight with unified champ Oleksandr Usyk didn't come off, he'd be a welcome stand-in.

    "If Usyk don’t want no smoke in February, then let’s do Joe Joyce at Wembley," he told Frank Warren's Queensbury Promotions. "Joe, get your skates on, get fit mush, because if (Usyk) don’t want no smoke, you’re in. Because I'm fighting three times next year and you can be one of them."

2. Anthony Joshua

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    JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - AUGUST 20: Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk trade punches during the Rage on the Red Sea Heavyweight Title Fight at King Abdullah Sports City Arena on August 20, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Khalid Alhaj/MB Media/Getty Images)
    Khalid Alhaj/MB Media/Getty Images

    So long as Fury and Anthony Joshua remain active, this one will remain alive.

    The two men have engaged in an awkward dance toward and around one another since 2018, when Fury returned to the sport following a three-year hiatus and Joshua was holding IBF, WBA and WBO title belts that Fury had relinquished with his absence.

    Words, both cordial and menacing, have been exchanged, and an all-England showdown seemed imminent on multiple occasions before falling through because of, well...boxing.

    Joshua has seen two runs as unified champion end in upset losses, most recently when he dropped two straight fights—in September 2021 and August 2022—to Usyk.

    Nevertheless, Fury insisted he was still willing to meet his longtime rival this year and gave a deadline for Joshua to sign a contract to enable a Dec. 3 fight, but pulled the plug when Joshua said he hadn't signed yet because the deal was being examined by his legal team.

    Joshua's ouster allowed Chisora to slot in for his third opportunity, but Fury himself still pines for the scuttled matchup as a career-defining fight.

    "I don't think I can retire today," Fury said on The High Performance Podcast.

    "Because I need that Joshua fight. We have been trying to make that fight for years. It's the fight that people want to see. It's the fight that I want to see as a boxing fan."

1. Oleksandr Usyk

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  (L-R) Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury, and Bob Arum at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
    Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

    The boxing landscape is littered with big fights that never happened.

    Or, in some cases, big fights that happened well after their sell-by dates had passed.

    For the former, see Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr., and for the latter, might we suggest: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.

    So, given those realities, there's a distinct possibility that a winner-take-all showdown between two reigning and unbeaten heavyweight title claimants might not occur.

    But, wow, wouldn't it be nice if it did?

    Now that they've handled repeat business with Chisora and Joshua, respectively, a battle between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk for the full quartet of widely recognized title belts is the sort of thing that only occurs on a generational basis.

    And while the other fights mentioned are nice, this is the one that matters.

    It appeared on the verge of happening before Joshua exercised a contractual clause to get his second bout with Usyk, and it's a better fight now that the Ukrainian has officially put Joshua in the rear-view mirror and emerged as the only other fighter with a legitimate title claim.

    They're ranked Nos. 1 and 2 at heavyweight by Boxrec.com and the Premier Boxing Organisation, among others, and it'd be a boon for the sport if the perpetual posturing and haggling could be dismissed so the fighters could settle their differences in the ring.

    Usyk was ringside for Fury's defeat of Chisora and both men made it seem as if that's what they wanted. Fury goaded his fellow champion to the ring apron and the two had an extended face-to-face confrontation, with Fury leading the verbal dance while his would-be foe's countenance never changed.

    "You're next you little b---h," he screamed, inches from Usyk's face.

    "You beat a bodybuilder. I ain't a bodybuilder. I already beat one Ukrainian in Wladimir Klitschko, I will end you."