Tyson Fury v. Wladimir Klitschko 2 is off. Not postponed, adjourned or left to marinate. The event will not take place after a statement from Fury's promoter on Friday indicated the champion is suffering from some mental health issues. Fury upset the form book and captured the undisputed Heavyweight crown from Klitschko last November in Hamburg, Germany but the road to the rematch has been anything but smooth – now we are left at a dead end.
The initial date for the rematch was set – July 9 and the rearranged meeting was to have taken place on October 29. Both times the Manchester Arena in England would have hosted.
It seemed like whenever a positive or favourable announcement was made about the rematch something would happen fairly quickly to cast doubt on the fight taking place and put the brakes on any momentum that had been built up. There now follows a timeline of dates and events that eventually led us to Friday's disclosure that there would be no fight.
After winning the titles Fury returned to the UK to congratulations and high praise from the boxing writers but he was given a less festive welcome by the main stream sporting press and media in general. There followed a period of time where Fury would appear on the front pages – not for the right reasons. The worst of these incidents was in May when he made terrible sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic comments. These quotes are easy to find online if you wish but I will stick to the boxing related incidents for this article.
After this May outburst and subsequent apology the next relevant date in the timeline is June 24. This was when Fury's team announced an ankle injury would delay the July 9 rematch.
June 26 saw things take another turn for the worse when newspaper reports revealed that Fury was facing a provisional suspension from the UK Anti-Doping Agency for producing a sample containing the banned substance nandrolone. This sample is believed to have been submitted by Fury in the early part of 2015. Fury and his camp maintained their innocence and this suspension was lifted, perhaps finally clearing the way for an easy journey through to a rearranged fight night.
Or not. On July 8 Fury posted on Twitter that the fight would take place on October 29. However nothing was confirmed regarding ticket sales, the booking of the venue or any TV coverage until September 7.
September 12 saw Fury miss the official press conference announcing the rearranged rematch. He was a no show, citing car trouble as the reason for his absence. Finally on September 23 the fight was called off with a statement from Fury's promoter informing the world that the champion is “medically unfit to fight.” The statement underlined this with “the condition is too severe to allow him to participate.”
So what now?
First thing is the nature of the problem keeping Fury from boxing on October 29. His mental health is clearly not where it needs to be. Getting the help he requires is of course far more important than defending his titles and I genuinely hope he can get back to a place where he feels able to box at the highest level again.
It is tough to say much more at this stage without fully understanding what the champion is dealing with but I will state that I sincerely hope to see Fury competing again. Although he courts controversy with his ill advised remarks I am only focusing on his ability in the ring here. I know his boxing technique isn't everyone's cup of tea but I do enjoy his movement based style, switch hitting capability and immense footwork for a fighter of his size. Get well soon Tyson and I look forward to watching you box again in the future.
This of course now leaves many questions moving forward. The rumour mill in boxing is about as fast moving and blurring as a four punch combination from Chocolatito, it is difficult to discern what is worth paying attention to, I have already seen on social media today that Wladimir Klitschko is now negotiating an alternative fight. This would make sense from the point of view of Klitschko remaining active but nothing has been confirmed at time of writing regarding this.
The WBO and WBA, the sanctioning bodies whose titles Fury is in possession of, need to decide if he is to be stripped or made “champion in recess” while he deals with his health concerns.
Then there are the other contenders in the division. My colleague here, John Gatling, recently wrote a great piece about a potential Klitschko v. Anthony Joshua fight. Many boxing fans would be eager to watch that as soon as it could be made. WBC title holder Deontay Wilder is another name that cannot be ignored when considering high profile bouts in the Heavyweight division in the near future.
It remains to be seen how long Fury will be absent for (a statement from his team revealing more details is expected Tuesday or Wednesday) but encouragingly his Uncle and trainer Peter Fury told media yesterday, “100% he will be back. I don't think it is anything severe in terms of long-term effects but he needs some medical assistance and I think he'll be OK.”
Hopefully this will be the case but in the land of the Heavyweights and especially with this Tyson Fury situation only time will tell.
–Introduced to boxing by watching as a teenager with his Dad, Morrison really began to appreciate the sport during the Lennox Lewis era from the mid 1990s. Since those days he has developed into a passionate boxing fan, enjoying all styles of the fight game. His favourite fight is Barrera-Morales 1 and when time allows he enjoys travelling to attend big fights. Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He hails from Scotland, United Kingdom where he lives with his wife and two children and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.