There's fresh hope of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk meeting in a heavyweight unification clash despite the fight collapsing twice already in the past year.
A duel to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era appeared all but cemented after the pair 'agreed' to fight one another in December 2022. However, boxing fans were disappointed once more when a bout of social media sparring between the pair in March 2023 also failed to materialise in a concrete agreement.
Fury, 35, has since turned his attention to a lucrative showdown against former UFC champion Francis Ngannou, which will take place in Saudi Arabia on October 28. That's put a pin in any plans for 'The Gypsy King' to defend his WBC belt, but council president Mauricio Sulaiman has said a meeting with Usyk is still a priority for the organisation.
"The mandatory contender is a rule to provide opportunities to the best contender in the division, not to be talked by the champion," he told Gambling.com. "If you force the mandatory just for the sake of it, you are doing a disservice to the sport. We will not be rushing up a mandatory contender.
READ MORE: Boxing chief tells fans 'don't blame Tyson Fury' for collapse of Joshua and Usyk fights
"We had ordered [Deontay] Wilder vs [Andy] Ruiz and the winner would have been a sensational mandatory contender and that fight did not take place. They are not participating in it so there is no mandatory contender.
"Fury is the best heavyweight without a doubt. We would like to see Fury vs Usyk so we will not interfere in the plans to have a major showdown for all the belts, so there is no hurry to find a mandatory contender, and we will see what happens at the WBC convention (Nov. 12 -17)."
A potential eliminator between Americans Wilder and Ruiz appeared to be in the works at the start of 2023, only for that duo to fail in coming to terms. Now, a potential punch-up between Wilder and Anthony Joshua has been mooted to decide the WBC's next mandatory challenger, but many fans will prefer a meeting against Usyk given what's at stake.
Who would win if Tyson Fury fought Oleksandr Usyk today? Let us know in the comments section below.
KSI takes on Tommy Fury at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday, October 14th as he hopes to cause an upset. Logan Paul will also be fighting at the event in front of what is expected to be a sell-out crowd.
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The Ukrainian seemingly did all in his power to convince Fury to fight at some point in 2023, replying swiftly to the Englishman's taunts in March and agreeing to a 30% share of their purse. Even then the duo were unable to get the contracts together, leaving Fury to concentrate on his belt-less battle against Ngannou.
For his part, Sulaiman has also said 'fans shouldn't blame Fury' for the collapse of those talks. He also defended The Gypsy King against the suggestion it's his fault a much-desired matchup with Joshua hasn't materialised.
Usyk, 36, has since returned to the ring and scored a controversial win over British hopeful Daniel Dubois earlier in September. 'The Cat' stopped Dubois in the ninth round after being downed himself by a blow that was deemed low, even though replays appeared to show it was perfectly legal.
The time for talking is almost over as KSI and Tommy Fury will bury their rivarly once and for all as they face off in Manchester on Saturday, October 14th. Logan Paul will also be fighting at the event in front of what is expected to be a sell-out crowd.
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Lennox Lewis was the last heavyweight champion to hold all the major belts simultaneously in 2000, though the WBO has since been added to the major ranks. No-one in the division has claimed all four crowns at the same time since then, and fans remain desperate to see whether Fury or Usyk can accomplish the feat.
With a combined age of 71, time is fast running out to see whether two of this generation's best fighters have the will to force a conclusive answer to that question. But boxing romantics will be glad to hear Sulaiman suggest that piece of pugilistic pantomime is still in the pipeline.
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