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WBC delays Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte purse bid: What it really means

·Combat columnist
·4 min read
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LAS VEGAS — The news that the WBC delayed until Friday its purse bid for a mandatory heavyweight title fight between champion Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte was probably seen by most as insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

But that would be, oh, so wrong.

This is a hugely significant development, particularly given that WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that the request for the delay came from Fury and Whyte.

That means that talks with Whyte and former unified champion Anthony Joshua are ongoing to step aside and permit a bout between Fury and IBF-WBA-WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk to happen next.

The former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk won the heavyweight belts by defeating Joshua in September. Joshua has a rematch clause, though, so the only way to make a Fury-Usyk fight next would be for both Whyte and Joshua to agree to give up their positions.

That will take money, and lots of it. There have been reports Joshua has been offered £15 million to give up his right to the Usyk rematch.

There is no promoter who has the kind of money, because Whyte would also require a significant payoff. And if Joshua and Whyte agreed, both Fury and Usyk would require massive paydays.

The only entities that would have that kind of money and are involved in and/or interested in boxing are located in the Middle East. Fury’s managed by MTK Global, which was founded in 2012 by Daniel Kinahan. Kinahan, who lives in Dubai, has said in court papers he withdrew from the company in 2017.

But Fury has referred to Kinahan as his manager after that.

The Saudis were planning to stage Fury versus Joshua on Aug. 14, 2021, but that fell apart when an arbitrator in the U.S. ruled that Fury had to fight Deontay Wilder first. Fury then knocked Wilder out for a second time on Oct. 9 in Las Vegas, two weeks after Joshua was stunned by Usyk.

“We are handling this and trying to accommodate all parties and come to a fair resolution,” Sulaiman told Yahoo Sports.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  (L-R) Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury, and Bob Arum at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
(L-R) Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury and Bob Arum at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 11, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Sulaiman said the purse bid will be held Friday in Mexico City as scheduled, though, so the clock is ticking to get a deal done.

It seems unlikely for a number of reasons. Joshua wants to get his titles back, and while £15 million is an extraordinary amount of money, he’ll make an extraordinary amount to fight Usyk, with the upside being if he wins he’d once again be in position to fight Fury.

The Saudis of course have the money to make it happen, but the more lucrative scenario for them would be to have Joshua fight Usyk and Fury face Whyte, with the winners then meeting. They’d get revenues from three big shows, not one, with the payoff then being that the fight between the winners would be more lucrative than a Fury-Usyk fight would be now.

Usyk isn’t nearly as well known as either Fury or Joshua outside the hardcore fan base. But if he beats Joshua a second time, particularly with the constant promotion of the winner meeting the Fury-Whyte winner, he’d be a much larger attraction.

If Fury beats Whyte — he’d be an overwhelming favorite to do so — and Joshua regains the belt for Usyk, the Fury-Joshua fight would be arguably bigger than it was when it was made in a $150 million deal last year.

The same would be true if Usyk won. At that point, he’d hold two wins over Joshua, have three of the four heavyweight belts and also have been undisputed cruiserweight champion. The only fighter to ever be both undisputed cruiserweight and undisputed heavyweight champion is the legendary Evander Holyfield.

The only downside would be if Whyte were somehow to upset Fury. That seems a remote possibility, at best.

For the sake of argument, if Joshua and Whyte agree to step aside before Friday’s WBC purse bid to allow Fury-Usyk to occur next, the smart move would be to have them fight. Joshua stopped Whyte in the seventh in a 2015 fight.

The winner of their rematch would be best positioned to take on the Fury-Usyk winner in that scenario.

This is the best of all worlds because it’s clear we’re about the see the best versus the best to decide one champion. I would be shocked if both Whyte and Joshua agree to step aside, though with the massive amount of money available, it might get to be impossible to say no.

Either way, boxing fans are in for a treat over the next few months.