No Filter Boxing - Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce IISep 24
The attention of the boxing world turns towards Tyson Fury's next opponent after enough impressive victory over Derek Chisora.
A dominant performance in North London with Oleksandr Usyk watching on left the Gypsy King with a record of 33-0-1.
Here's a closer look at Fury's potential next opponent.
Fury has stated that a showdown with Oleksandr Usyk is “top of the shopping list” for 2023 and the unification bout could be next.
And more fuel was added to the fire as Fury fired a string of insults at Usyk after the latter watched the fight with Chisora from the sidelines.
Usyk retained the WBA, WBO and IBF versions of the title after a successful rematch with Anthony Joshua in August but hasn’t fought since, citing a long-term injury.
The Ukrainian produced a boxing masterclass in Saudi Arabia and called out Fury after the victory, saying: “I want to fight him and if I’m not fighting Tyson Fury, I’m not fighting at all.”
The WBC recently paved the way for the fight to take place early next year after allowing Fury to take on Usyk before facing a mandatory challenger.
The prospect of the first unified heavyweight world champion since 1999 is a compelling one and there will be a public clamour for the unification bout to be made.
Fury offered Joshua the chance to fight for his belt after his defeat to Usyk, but the proposed all-British title fight fell through after protracted negotiations.
Demand will always be there for one of the biggest fights in the sport and Fury recently said he “needs to fight Joshua before he retires” and that it would be a “dying travesty” if it didn’t happen.
Former two-time heavyweight champion Joshua has also indicated he is still hopeful of facing Fury.
The Briton last fought against Usyk in August and is likely to return in early 2023 after opting against a quick return following the unsuccessful Fury talks.
Fury was ringside for Joyce’s stunning knockout win over Joseph Parker and could face the WBO interim champion in his next fight if the undisputed bout can’t be made.
The 37-year-old is unbeaten in 15 fights and has statement victories over Daniel Dubois and Parker on his record.
He has established himself as one of the leading contenders in the division since he turned professional in 2017 and Fury has suggested the fight could take place next.
“If Usyk don’t want no smoke in February, let’s do Joyce at Wembley,” he said.
“Joe, get your skates on, get fit, because if the middleweight don’t want no smoke, you’re in. I’m fighting three times next year and you could be one of them.”
Fury has also talked up a fourth fight with Deontay Wilder after their epic trilogy.
The Bronze Bomber made a winning return with an emphatic first-round knockout of Robert Helenius and has been ordered to fight Andy Ruiz Jr with the winner becoming mandatory challenger.
Speaking about the prospect of a fourth showdown, Fury said: “providing he gets through that fight [Ruiz Jr] and I get through mine.
“If the Usyk fight cannot be made in February, I will have a mandatory by April, he will have to come to Wembley in April.”
The Gypsy King delivered a thrilling 11th-round knockout of Wilder in another classic fight last October after the first ended in a controversial draw and Fury convincingly won the second.
Who else could Fury fight?
There are several other contenders to face Fury, including WBA regular heavyweight champion Daniel Dubois who looks rejuvenated under the tutelage of Shane McGuigan.
The 25-year-old suffered a setback with a first professional defeat to Joyce but has propelled himself back into contention and is the coming force of the division.
Andy Ruiz Jr could also come into the picture if he upsets Wilder to become the WBC mandatory challenger. The Mexican has won successive fights since he lost the unified titles to Joshua in December 2019.
There was talk of a clash with Mahmoud Charr before the Chisora fight was finalised and a rematch with Otto Wallin is an outside option. Other heavyweight contenders include Filip Hrgovic, Zhang Zhilei and Frank Sanchez.
What about retirement?
Fury announced his retirement in September but has since done a U-turn. In a revealing interview with BT Sport’s Carl Frampton, he admitted “I do not know how to quit”.
“After I beat Dillian Whyte in April, I really meant retirement and I swear to God I couldn’t have been more sure of something in all my life,” he said.
“For the four months I was retired, I’ve never felt so back to 2015, 2016, 2017 ever before. But I was back in that moment in that time where life was very dull, very dark and there was no way back for me.
“And without it, (my head) is going downhill rapidly and I don’t know any other way of keeping it sane. This is me being brutally honest, speaking from the heart, I do not know how to quit.”
His comments suggest that he has no plans to retire ahead of what could be a huge 2023.