Tyson Fury successfully defended his WBC heavyweight title at Wembley Stadium with a highlight-reel one-punch stoppage in the sixth round against Dillian Whyte before reiterating his plans to retire.
Even those close to Fury have cast doubt on whether he will stick to his word and hang up his gloves, with WBA, IBF and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk and British rival Anthony Joshua waiting in the wings.
Here, the PA news agency takes a deeper look at the issue after a memorable night in front of a 94,000 crowd – a post-war British record – and what might be next for boxing’s blue riband division.
Is this really it for Fury?
The self-appointed ‘Gypsy King’ certainly sounded convincing but he would not be the first fighter to backtrack on retirement. Father John recently branded his son as the “biggest wind-up merchant in the world”, which has more than a whiff of truth to it. Ultimately, time will tell. He spent his post-fight press conference insisting he was done but added the caveat that exhibitions could tickle his fancy. In his sights is UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who was ringside on Saturday night and has long spoken of his desire to cross over into the boxing world, even if he is sidelined after knee surgery.
But what about the winner of Usyk-Joshua?
Fury extended his unbeaten record to 33 fights, with 32 wins and a draw, but while there is another world champion carrying an ‘0’ – as Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion does – can Fury really bow out? Similarly, if Joshua regains his titles in a planned rematch this summer and looks somewhere near back to his best, can Fury resist another domestic blockbuster which would surely shatter all records? For now, the 33-year-old’s insistence that he is through with professional boxing must be taken at face value.
Is there anything else that could tempt him back?
Not really. The consensus is Fury has done more than enough to establish himself as the dominant heavyweight of his era, having ended the long reign of Wladimir Klitschko as world champion in 2015 before getting the better of the hard-hitting American Deontay Wilder in one of the great modern trilogies. His five fights before Whyte this weekend were Stateside, including the three against Wilder, and he is one of the few Britons who can justifiably claim to have cracked America. With it has come many millions of pounds. He has won all four major world titles, there are few gaps in his CV.
How will he go down in history?
While far from perfect outside the ring – he has made sexist and homophobic remarks in the past while he received a backdated two-year doping ban after testing positive for a banned steroid, which he blamed on eating uncastrated wild boar – Fury hardly put a foot wrong inside of it. Despite his 6ft 9in frame and the fact he carried upwards of 19st with a fleshy midsection to boot, his movement and speed were breathtaking while his power came to the fore late on in his career, with his stamina under-rated. His record demands respect and his name fits comfortably alongside the all-time heavyweight greats.
What now for the heavyweight division?
It will move on, it always does. Focus will soon switch to Usyk-Joshua II, after which all eyes will be on Fury and whether a potential tilt at becoming undisputed champion interests him. As for Whyte, who fell short in his first world title shot and slipped to his third defeat in 31 fights, it is back to the drawing board. Fury, though, was adamant his rival will eventually become a world champion. Joe Joyce revealed he and Fury’s training partner and former world champion Joseph Parker will fight this summer. The winner of that will surely go on to fight for one of the four big alphabet belts, while Jared Anderson, Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic are expected to challenge for the top honours soon enough.
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