Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tyson Fury is no longer world heavyweight champion as Klitschko and Joshua bout edges closer

Tyson Fury has given up his belt
Tyson Fury has given up his belt

Tyson Fury's decision to voluntarily vacate his world heavyweight titles is expected to pave the way for a blockbusting clash between Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua.

Fury relinquished the WBA, WBO and IBO titles on Wednesday night in order to fully focus on his treatment and recovery from depression.

With the belts now up for grabs, Klitschko and Joshua, the IBF champion, look set to go to battle in a mouthwatering bout, potentially as early as December.

Negotiations between the two parties have been ongoing and promoter Eddie Hearn is expecting a deal to be struck.

Fury has not fought since claiming his belts by stunning Klitschko in Germany in November 2015 and recently pulled out of a rematch for the second time after being declared "medically unfit".

He was faced with losing his licence and a ban after admitting to taking cocaine in a Rolling Stone magazine interview but pre-empted any punishment from the British Boxing Board of Control by announcing his vacation.

Tyson Fury, right, in action against Wladimir Klitschko
Tyson Fury, right, in action against Wladimir Klitschko

He said in a statement: "I won the titles in the ring and I believe that they should be lost in the ring, but I'm unable to defend at this time and I have taken the hard and emotional decision to now officially vacate my treasured world titles and wish the next in-line contenders all the very best as I now enter another big challenge in my life which I know, like against Klitschko, I will conquer.

"I feel that it is only fair and right and for the good of boxing to keep the titles active and allow the other contenders to fight for the vacant belts that I proudly won and held as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko.

His promoters Hennessy Sports added: ''Out of respect for the governing bodies, the sport of boxing and the heavyweight division, Tyson has made the difficult decision to vacate the belts.

''This will also allow him the time and space to fully recover from his present condition without any undue pressure and with the expert medical attention he requires and his close family support.''

Fury upset the odds by beating the Ukrainian Klitschko in November 2015, also claiming the IBO belt, but he has yet to honour a rematch, twice pulling out.

Fury added: "I feel that it is only fair and right and for the good of boxing to keep the titles active and allow the other contenders to fight for the vacant belts that I proudly won and held as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Anthony Joshua (left) knocks down Kevin Johnson
Anthony Joshua (left) knocks down Kevin Johnson

Fury recently told Rolling Stone magazine that he had been taking cocaine to help with depression and he will now seek medical care.

His promoters Hennessy Sports said in a statement: "Out of respect for the governing bodies, the sport of boxing and the heavyweight division, Tyson has made the difficult decision to vacate the belts.

"This will also allow him the time and space to fully recover from his present condition without any undue pressure and with the expert medical attention he requires and his close family support."

Fury's vacation is likely to expedite confirmation of a fight between Klitschko and Anthony Joshua for the newly-vacant titles.

Negotiations are ongoing between Klitschko and Joshua, with promoter Eddie Hearn hoping to get the fight on in December.

Press Association

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