News broke this week that the undefeated boxer Tyson Fury will next be seen in action in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 28.
Mandatory defence? Nah.
Unification fight? Nope.
Ok, tantalising looking voluntary defence against a wildcard from the top 5 in the WBC rankings?
I'm sorry to say, the answer is also no.
Tyson Fury will instead face former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. It is being described as a non-title boxing match.
Ngannou has never boxed before. It is, quite frankly, preposterous.
As for the quick – I'm aiming to keep the word count down this week – but will also consider the end of Teofimo Lopez' short-lived retirement and what it may mean for the 140-pound division.
What Happened To Tyson's Fury?
I suppose the easiest answer is money. Fury has more than enough of it going by what he says.
And with that, the motivation to challenge himself seems to have disappeared.
An undisputed heavyweight title fight with unified champion Oleksandr Usyk could not be agreed upon.
Last year a mooted bout with Anthony Joshua didn't get past the initial ‘challenge on social media’ stage.
In fact, this seems to be par for the course these days for Mr. Tyson Fury. He talks a lot on social media, then does nothing.
He's losing fans quicker than Richard Pryor was spending money in the 1985 comedy Brewster's Millions.
Recent Fury Bouts Have Underwhelmed
Fury spent his 2022 feasting on what's left of two of his countrymen.
In April he took on Dillian Whyte, and won easily. Whyte was his mandatory so everyone understood that one.
2022 entered its final month and Fury then made a voluntary defence against Derek Chisora. It would be the third meeting of the two UK heavyweights.
It was unnecessary, but provided both with a decent payday, as Fury carried the washed up remains of Chisora into the tenth round before the referee had seen enough.
Now, 2023 will play out and all Tyson Fury will have to show for the year is this carry on with Ngannou.
Fair play to Ngannou by the way; the Cameroon born, former UFC star, has never boxed professionally in his life but walks into a bout against Fury with a Saudi Arabian payday attached to it.
Is This Different To Past Cross Discipline Fights?
This is very different to anything I can think of as it involves a still active fighter who is effectively holding up an entire weight division to indulge in this.
In 2017, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor had a similar match where an elite boxer took on a star from the UFC promotion in a boxing match.
The difference was Mayweather had been done with boxing for two years and wasn't clinging to a title belt or preventing fights with actual boxers being made.
In June 1976, then undisputed heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali took on Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki.
It was a weird hybrid matchup where Inoki was permitted to kick Ali. Which he did for the duration of the thing. It was declared a draw after 15 rounds.
The difference in this case was Ali did not take a year off to partake in this brand of madness.
Ali had already defended his title three times that year (February, April, May) before he boosted his bank balance with a quick trip to Japan to fool around with Inoki.
Even better, in the September of that year, Ali was back in the boxing arena for his trilogy fight against Ken Norton.
Tyson Fury gets no passes from fans for 2023’s version of this nonsense. He may be making millions but his legacy is being tarnished.
Who Should Fury Have Fought Instead?
The quick answer here is Oleksandr Usyk. Negotiations got stuck in the mud, apparently over the rematch clause.
Fury is fast gaining a reputation for being tougher to negotiate with than Aurelio De Laurentiius, the chairman of Italian football giants Napoli.
Back to the potential opponents; what is the point of a governing body, in this case the WBC, having rankings if they don't work to ensure their title holder makes relevant defences of said title?
What's the point in a governing body if they just let their champion swan about, doing as he pleases?
Looking at the current rankings of the WBC, the usual suspects are there. Wilder, Ruiz Jr. and Joshua take up the slots immediately below champion Fury.
None of them want to fight Tyson Fury? Fine.
Why not offer number four ranked Frank Sanchez (22-0, 15KOs) or number five Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0, 16KOs) the fight?
Again, the answer is money. It's making a mockery of the sport.
What Will Tyson Fury vs. Ngannou Look Like
I mentioned it earlier, but this is Mayweather vs. McGregor all over again.
They are even promoting it the same with the “what if Ngannou lands one on him?” rhetoric.
Like McGregor, Ngannou isn't a boxer so he won't be able to land anything conclusively powerful on one of the best moving and defensively responsible heavyweights.
Power in the MMA discipline doesn't translate into power in the boxing ring. If Ngannou had fought three or four cans and KO'd them it would have made this marketing strategy more convincing.
But it is what it is. The event will happen, Tyson Fury will see to it that it lasts as long as he decides and will rake in a fortune for an easy night's work before disappearing until at least April of 2024.
And the heavyweight division will continue to plod along at a snail's pace.
If it wasn't so predictable, it would be worth getting angry about.
Teofimo Lopez Is Back From Retirement
Let's close out with this quickly.
Earlier this week, light welterweight title holder Teofimo Lopez confirmed his short-lived retirement was over.
The WBO pressed him for an answer on whether or not he would vacate the title he won from Josh Taylor on June 10.
Lopez informed the alphabet sanctioning body that he would indeed remain as their champion.
In a sporting sense it is good news as one of the best boxers in the world is remaining active.
Lopez' first act after it was confirmed he was sticking around in boxing was to trash talk undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney on Twitter.
Is that fight possible for the future? We shall have to wait and see.
Potential unification bouts at 140 look tasty. Lopez vs. either Regis Prograis or Subriel Matias would get fans excited.
Lopez ended his boxing hiatus quickly. Hopefully he has a meaningful and challenging fight arranged before the end of 2023.