WBC President Confirms Tyson Fury's Mandatory Title Defense
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has officially stated that Tyson Fury will be required to defend his heavyweight title with their organization after his bouts with Francis Ngannou and the IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk. Fury and Usyk are contractually bound to a rematch, ensuring a second fight following their planned December 23 undisputed championship clash in Saudi Arabia. Assuming Fury doesn't take an extended break after his lucrative encounters with Ngannou and Usyk this year, he should be available to defend his WBC title in the latter half of 2024, right after his mandatory rematch with Oleksandr in the first part of the next year. Unfortunately, there's no WBC mandatory challenger set for Fury at the moment, as negotiations between Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz fell through. They were ordered by the World Boxing Council to meet in a title eliminator, but the WBC has yet to issue another such order. As a result, Fury or Usyk will have the opportunity to make a voluntary title defense next year. It's worth noting that Fury already made a mandatory defense against Dillian Whyte in April 2022, so it's been over a year since his last one. Whether the WBC remains lenient with their champions regarding mandatory challenges is up for debate. When asked about Fury's obligation to defend his belt after his fights with Ngannou and Usyk, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman firmly affirmed that Fury must do so. It might have been more appropriate if Sulaiman had mentioned the possibility of installing the current #1 ranked WBC contender, Deontay Wilder, as Fury's new mandatory challenger. It would be concerning if another year passes without a title defense, and if this continues into the following year, it will be over two years without one. Sulaiman also mentioned a specially crafted belt, referred to as the "Riyadh season belt," for Fury's fight against former UFC fighter Ngannou. He explained that it's a commemorative trophy for the winner of this unique event, but it remains unclear if there will be a sanctioning fee associated with it. The inclusion of Ngannou's image alongside legendary fighters like Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Frazier on this belt has raised some eyebrows, as it might seem to diminish the significance of such an honor. Sulaiman shared that this commemorative belt is unique, and it could potentially become an annual tradition for fighters competing in Saudi Arabia, similar to the Juneteenth belt in the United States and other special trophies for various occasions. While the WBC appears excited about these developments, the issue of mandatory title defenses remains a point of contention in the boxing world.