Tyson Fury has now lodged more retirements than overall title defenses.
The unbeaten two-time and reigning lineal/WBC heavyweight champion once again claims to be done with the sport, the latest declaration coming Friday as he celebrates his 34th birthday . Fury took to social media to announce his retirement for the second time this year and at least the third time overall in his 14-year career.
“Massive thanks to everyone who had an input in my career over the years,” Fury stated on his verified social media channels. “After long hard conversations, [I’ve] finally decided to walk away and my 34th birthday I say ‘Bon Voyage.’”
The claim was validated in part by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, who confirmed the news shortly after a discussion with the heavyweight king Friday morning.
“I just had a beautiful video conference with Tyson Fury on his 34th birthday,” Sulaiman said in a video posted to his verified Twitter account. “Very proud of him. He has confirmed retirement, to go out as a champion, as a family man with money with a great future. That’s a dream of anyone involved in boxing. We want to wish Tyson Fury the best. May God bless him all the time. He’s a great, great inspiration.”
Sulaiman would not confirm whether the WBC title would be declared vacant. Fury claimed the title in a seventh-round stoppage of Deontay Wilder (42-2-1, 41KOs) in their February 22, 2020 rematch in Las Vegas, nearly 15 months after the two fought to a controversial draw on December 1, 2018. Two title defenses have followed: an off-the-canvas, eleventh round knockout of Wilder in their epic trilogy clash last October in the 2021 Fight of the Year; and a sixth-round knockout of countryman Dillian Whyte on April 23 in front of 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
The win over Whyte was met with claims by Fury that he was done with the sport, that the homecoming left him with no reason to continue his storied career that has seen him twice establish championship lineage in boxing’s most storied division. Few in the boxing world believed it to be true, as Fury still held on to his WBC title, claiming he was under no obligation to relinquish until his next mandatory was due 12 months from the win over Whyte.
Most expected him to at least wait out the winner of the August 20 rematch between WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) and former two-time unified champ Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) before making his next move. The industry-wide hope was that Fury would face the winner to crown an undisputed champion, although there will also be mandatory challengers from the WBA, IBF and WBO all waiting in the wings.
Instead, Fury has been all over the place with career next steps. The most recent development prior to Friday’s social media reveal came earlier this week, when Morecambe’s Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs) released a video claiming he was moving forward with a trilogy clash against countryman Derek Chisora. Fury owns two clear-cut wins over the veteran gatekeeper, with little to no public interest in a third fight between them. The video also alleged that Fury would be moving forward with longtime stablemate Isaac Lowe as his new head trainer.
The hulking Brit quickly reversed course, claiming talks had fallen apart. It came shortly after his Hall of Fame co-promoter Bob Arum dismissed his post as a joke, that nothing would be decided until the outcome of the Usyk-Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia.
Fury very clearly had other ideas, even naming Arum—in part—among those he wished to thank for being there along the way.
“[Here’s] a few who made it special along the way,” noted Fury. “Frank Warren, SugarHil [Steward], BT Sport, Dad (John Fury), Spencer Brown, Steve Egan, ESPN, WBC, Top Rank, Jimmy Harrington, Andy Lee, Isaac Lowe, Ben Davison, Kristian Blacklock, Tim Allcock, Robert Davies, Shane Fury, Hughie Fury, James Ward.
“Sorry if I missed [you], there’s [too] many to name! Massive shoutout to [wife] Paris Fury who helped me more than anyone. Most of all, [thank you] God. See you all on the other side, you big dossers. 2008-2022.”
Fury first claimed championship status in a November 2015 points win over Wladimir Klitschko, dethroning the lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO champ on the road in Dusseldorf, Germany. The two were due to meet in a rematch in July 2016, which was postponed due to an alleged injury suffered by Fury and then the rescheduled fight canceled outright after he tested positive for cocaine as part of random drug testing contracted by VADA.
Also going on during that time, Fury was the subject of an ongoing investigation for a positive drug test surrounding his February 2015 win over Christian Hammer at The O2 in London. The final ruling was a backdated two-year suspension and the fight outcome invalidated.
The latter never occurred, as Fury is still credited with the win. However, he remained out of action for more than 30 months from a combination of the suspension and also battling substance abuse and severe depression, having ballooned up to 400 pounds at one point and also wrestling with thoughts of suicide.
Fury returned to the ring in June 2018, rattling off two quick wins before proceeding with a shot at Wilder, who was unbeaten and the reigning WBC titlist at the time of their December 2018 clash in Los Angeles. The two fought to a disputed draw, with hopes of staging an immediate rematch. Fury slammed on the brakes, withdrawing from talks just as it came time to put pen to paper as he instead signed a lucrative multi-fight deal with Top Rank and ESPN+.
The nine-figure pact included four straight fights in Las Vegas—two each on ESPN+ and Pay-Per-View in a collaboration between ESPN and Fox Sports—before returning home for a win over Whyte atop a pay-per-view carried by BT Sport in the UK and ESPN + in the US.
Top Rank representatives have not commented on Fury’s alleged retirement. Arum’s prior insistence of monitoring the Usyk-Joshua rematch outcome remains the most recent update regarding Fury’s in-ring future.
Actions taken by the WBC will ultimately dictate just how serious Fury is about once again calling it a career. The acknowledgment of severing all ties with the sport should free up the title, which would come at a time when Wilder—the sanctioning body’s number-one contender—is due to return to the ring in October. Robert Helenius is the leading candidate to land the role of opponent, though such plans are not yet finalized.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox