The last two weeks have been a roller coaster for boxing fans. Many thought they were going to get a possible Fight Of The Year candidate in May and now fans are left disappointed, yet again, because of boxing politics. On February 18th, it came out that Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) had signed an exclusive 5-fight deal with ESPN, as well as, a co-promotional deal with Top Rank Promotions. Everyone knew it would certainly throw a wrench into negotiations between Fury and Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs). Boxing fans tried to remain optimistic that somehow they would work out a deal. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as easily as they should in boxing, especially when a lot of money is involved.
Since then, it has come out that Fury wants an “interim bout” before committing to a rematch with Wilder. Different reasons are coming out from a wide variety of sources, saying 1) Fury isn’t ready for the rematch, 2) Bob Arum doesn’t want to risk Fury losing his debut Top Rank/ESPN fight, and 3) Top Rank wants to sign Wilder to a fight deal and use the Fury rematch as leverage.
Presumably, it’s a combination of all those reasons. However, Wilder has shot down any claims that he would sign with Top Rank Promotions. He is currently advised by Al Haymon who has ties to Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions. Wilder currently does not have any exclusive deal with any network. Despite the obstacles, Bob Arum has come out saying that he still hopes to make the rematch happen later this year. Fight fans remain hopeful, but I’m sure most won’t be holding their breath.
Now that the rematch is officially off, Tyson Fury is left without an opponent to fight in the near term. There are a few different paths he can take as there are a number of fighters, either signed with Top Rank Promotions, or who have a similar co-promotional deal. These are a few fights that are easy to make and also make the most sense for Fury.
Joseph Parker (25-2, 19 KOs)
Many boxing sources are already talking up the possibility of Tyson Fury fighting New Zealand’s, Joseph Parker. Parker’s promoter, David Higgins, has stated that if the terms are right there’s no reason the fight shouldn’t happen. There seems to be mutual interest in this fight and it makes the most sense. Parker is the former WBO champion, having only lost to top competition – Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), who he took the distance and Dillian Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs). Parker is coming off a win against Alexander Flores (17-2, 15 KOs) and is looking for a big fight. Parker has ties to Top Rank so negotiations should be smooth.
Bryant Jennings (24-3, 14 KOs)
This would be more of a “soft touch”, and what should be an easy win for Fury. Something to boost his confidence, if that’s what his team is looking for. Jennings has a deal with Top Rank and ESPN so it would be extremely easy to make the fight. It’s a hard fight to sell though, so I’m guessing this would be a last alternative.
Oscar Rivas (26-0, 18 KOs)
This Colombian heavyweight is coming off of a KO victory over Bryant Jennings, which is the biggest victory of his career so far. He’s only 6’0, which would give Fury a clear height advantage at 6’9, but Rivas packs some serious power. Jennings found that out the hard way, in the final round of their fight. He’s undefeated, he’s up and coming, he has good power so it could be viewed as a tune up for Wilder. He is now tied to Top Rank/ESPN, so it would not be a hard fight to make.
Kubrat Pulev (26-1, 13 KOs)
This fight would most likely happen a little later in the summer as it depends on how much Fury wants to fight in May or June. Pulev has a fight scheduled for March 23rd against Bogdan Dinu (18-1, 14 KOs). Pulev is coming off a UD win against Tyson’s cousin, Hughie Fury (21-2, 11 KOs). That makes it an interesting fight to sell. One could use that as an angle for the fight build up, “Tyson Fury to avenge cousin in upcoming bout”. If Pulev didn’t have a fight in March, I’d think this would be one of Top Rank’s top choices for Fury’s next opponent.
Tyson Fury is not short on fight options. At this point, I think that the Parker fight makes the most sense. It’s a winnable fight for Fury but it’s not a lock, which makes it interesting. Most people will still be mad about the postponement of the Wilder rematch. However, Fury is no stranger to selling a fight and I’m sure he can hype it up enough to get people to tune in.