Ranking the 4 Best Opponents for Tyson Fury After Win vs. Dillian Whyte
The Gypsy King still reigns.
Unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury successfully risked both his record and his title belt Saturday, emerging with a highlight-worthy sixth-round TKO win over mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte in a pay-per-view extravaganza at a jam-packed Wembley Stadium in London.
The victory boosted Fury to 32-0-1 as a pro and was the second defense of the title he'd earned with a seventh-round stoppage of Deontay Wilder in 2020. He made his first defense in a trilogy fight with Wilder—they'd fought to a draw in 2018—that ended in an 11th-round KO in October.
Saturday's win came at 2:59 of the sixth, shortly after Fury landed a right uppercut that dropped Whyte flat on his back. The challenger rose but was in no condition to continue and was waved off by referee Mark Lyson, leaving Fury to commend his foe's effort before serenading 94,000 fans.
"Dillian Whyte is a warrior and I believe Dillian will be a world champion," Fury said.
"I'm one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. And unfortunately for Dillian Whyte, he had to face me tonight. Even Lennox Lewis could be proud of that uppercut."
The B/R combat sports team used the opportunity to create a list of fighters who we think would make the best opponents for Fury's next appearance, which could come before the end of 2022.
Read through to see what we came up with and leave a comment or two with views of your own.
OK, we'll play along.
Though boxing retirements often don't last beyond the next press conference, let's take Fury at his pre-fight word and concede that the defeat of Whyte on Saturday was his last go-round.
"I'm retiring," he said. "I'm out, this is my final fight, the final countdown, I'm done."
If so, he'll walk away as the best heavyweight in the world, having beaten every man he faced while going 4-0-1 in title fights and held each of the four major championship belts at one time or another.
He took the IBF, WBA and WBO titles from then-champ Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 but never defended the cache after walking away from the sport for personal reasons. After a couple of warm-up fights, he returned to fight then-WBC champ Wilder to a draw in 2018 before taking the Alabaman's title by TKO in a 2020 rematch.
Fury claims the $150 million he's got in the bank will ease any concerns about post-career income, though he'll leave a vault-full of additional money on the table by following through on the decision to exit.
Next stop: Hall of Fame ballots in 2027.
3. Francis Ngannou
Oh, so maybe Fury retires from "traditional" boxing and wanders into the world of fantastical matchups that's become pay-per-view mainstream thanks to Jake Paul and others.
If so, he's already got a willing dance partner.
Reigning UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou has gone public with a number of beefs against company czar Dana White, including the idea he should be able to tap into the crossover fight market too.
White has nixed the prospect of a fight, but Ngannou, who has won six straight fights and defended his title once since winning it from Stipe Miocic, made his desires clear in a recent video on his YouTube channel simply titled I Will Fight Tyson Fury.
And he was at Wembley Stadium to see his would-be rival up close. He came into the ring after the fight to discuss the match with Fury, who said it'd be with hybrid rules—with MMA gloves in a boxing ring.
"We're going to fight to see who is the baddest motherf--ker in the world," Ngannou said.
Fury had revved the engines previously as well, telling IFL TV that the match will indeed happen in 2023.
"[There's been no talks] this year, no, because I have got some boxing to do. But next year we can have some f--king crazy fights," he said (7:50 mark). "... I believe it breaks all pay-per-view records in the United States. Two heavyweight champions going head-to-head."
2. Oleksandr Usyk
Now that we're back into boxing as it's commonly labeled, some clarity.
The final two fighters listed in this piece will meet in a rematch later this year, promoter Eddie Hearn told the BBC. So the order in which they appear here is less a prediction of who will win the second fight and more a suggestion of which winner would help put on a bigger, more lucrative event.
With that said, a Fury fight with Oleksandr Usyk would certainly be worth watching.
Presuming the former cruiserweight king duplicates last September's defeat of Anthony Joshua and retains his cache of IBF, WBA and WBO title belts, it would yield a battle of two legitimate unbeaten heavyweight championship claimants that only occurs on a generational basis.
Ali-Frazier. Holyfield-Bowe. Fury-Usyk. Has a nice ring to it, right?
The fight was actually in the works for 2022 before Joshua exercised a rematch clause to get a second crack at Usyk. And it's hard to imagine Fury will indeed exit with an undisputed claim just one fight away.
At least we hope not.
1. Anthony Joshua
No offense, Mr. Usyk, but this is the dreamiest of dream fights.
Two British-born fan favorites with dueling factions. Two gigantic champions with legitimate heavyweight title claims. Two rivals rarely reluctant to have the other's name in his mouth.
Book the venue and set the cash registers to warp speed, because as good a fight as Usyk-Fury might be, the sheer scope and spectacle of this one is breathtaking to imagine.
And had Joshua not been upset by the former 200-pound champ last September, the wheels were already in motion to have it occur as part of a two-fight series. The first was to have a 50-50 purse split and the second would have leaned 60-40 in favor of the first fight's winner.
Joshua's loss to Usyk took the luster away, but if he's able to win his belts back in a rematch—particularly if it's dominant in nature—it'll be full speed ahead, assuming Fury is still interested.
And given the potential for volatile pre-fight banter, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't be.
"One of the fascinations about this fight will be the buildup because they're two totally different characters, two totally different personalities," Hearn told ESPN when the initial deal was reached. "The mind games will be on another level for this fight. Tyson is very good at that. Anthony is excited by that."