The heavyweight boxing landscape took a huge shift with the news that world champ Tyson Fury would be unable to fight for the foreseeable future due to mental health issues, and with Fury likely to be stripped of the belts he currently holds: the WBA and WBO titles, rival fighters are looking at getting their hands on them.
The latest news – subject to change, of course – tells us this: IBF champ Anthony Joshua will box in November; either against mandatory challenger Joseph Parker or former king Wladimir Klitschko. The WBO belt is expected to be declared vacant in the next ten days. The WBA will look into Fury’s position and make a decision forthwith.
Here’s where it gets complicated (more complicated). If Joshua fights Klitschko, Parker (who must first come through against Alexander Dimitrenko this Saturday) may well look to stay active and fight someone else; with David Price hoping for the bout, to take place on the Joshua under-card on Nov. 26th. But, in a new twist, Dean Lonergan, Parker’s promoter, has told The New Zealand Herald that he is looking at having Parker fight Andy Ruiz Junior (you know, the unbeaten Mexican/American who was to have fought Hughie Fury on the October 29 Fury-Klitschko II card, only to pull out of the fight even before the big rematch fell apart) in New Zealand in December.
Lonergan, who says he is exploring all possible options for his fighter, says Parker and Ruiz Jr could fight for the WBO belt, expected as it is, to be stripped from Fury very soon. Parker, unbeaten, is ranked, Lonergan explains, at No.1 in the WBO rankings.
“This Ruiz fight is an option we’ve started to look at because Eddie Hearn is off trying to do a deal with Klitschko and I fully understand that,” Lonergan said. “When Joseph is in the position he’s in: one – he’s the mandatory in the IBF, two – he’s the number-1 with the WBO, three – Tyson Fury is going to be stripped of the WBO belt – these are a lot of opportunities for Joseph and we are 100 percent going to explore the best opportunity.”
So, we could have two unbeaten fighters, Parker and Ruiz, fighting in Auckland for Fury’s WBO belt before the year is out. We could also see Joshua face Klitschko, and who knows what will happen to Fury’s WBA belt. It’s open season in the heavyweight division and when the smoke clears (if it ever does) who will be top dog? It could be a long, long time before we ever see an undisputed heavyweight champion again, put it that way!