By Ted Sares
Nobody can ever deny that the Gypsy giant Tyson Fury dethroned Wladimir Klitschko in Germany after a decade of dominance by the Ukrainian, but based on fast developing news, it suddenly seems likely that he will be stripped of all his world titles and possibly suspended because things just got worse—very worse– for Fury and the heavyweight division. Reportedly, “Tyson was visited by testers over the last few weeks but just refused. He said, ‘F*** off’, and wouldn’t do it. His camp tried to contact UKAD to get him tested but to date that has not taken place.'” But it gets worse. Multiple sources with knowledge say that Fury failed a September 22 drug test from VADA — testing positive for cocaine – and have confirmed the results to ESPN’S Dan Rafael.
At first, the reaction to his “medical condition” evoked sympathy. If the diagnosis was in fact depression or some related condition, that’s one thing, but now that sympathy has turned. Here is what Bernd Boente, Wladimir Klitschko’s manager, told ESPN.com, “I feel very sorry that UKADA never was open about that situation with us because then we would have insisted on VADA testing before the first fight…I think Fury is probably the most unworthy heavyweight champion in history, not only because of this situation but because of the whole package of his sexist comments, his anti-Semitic comments and his homophobic comments…”
Even before this shocking development, Eddie Hearn had this to say:
“Yes, I do think Fury will be stripped. It’s been nearly a year since he’s boxed. The governing bodies want that belt to be active so over the next couple of weeks, the contenders will be putting pressure on the governing bodies…I think they’ll move on, put the champion in recess and move forward with the belts. When Tyson is ready to fight again, hopefully we’ll all welcome him back into the sport. I think he’s great for the sport. He’s got one of the biggest wins of a British fighter of all time. I want him in the division. I know Anthony (Joshua) wants him in the division and, of course, everybody does, because those big fights are out there…
That was earlier but now, we may never see Fury back in a boxing ring again.
As for the rest of the division, the long story short about 2016 thus far is that WBC champ Deontay Wilder is out until next year. The “Interim” WBA ruler Luis Ortiz is fading into the sunset. And Lucas Browne, a short-time holder of yet another version of the WBA belt became involved with a drug enhancement issue after waxing Ruslan Chagaev with a great effort in Russia no less.
It appears only Anthony Joshua (17-0) and Joseph Parker (21-0) has enjoyed a good year so far. Joshua waxed arguably the worst heavyweight champion in history– Charles Martin– in April, and then followed-up with a stoppage win over a gutsy but outclassed Dominic Breazeale. As for what is fast becoming the “Joshua Sweepstakes,” Parker, Kubrat Pulev (23-1), and David Haye (28-2), among others, are possible entrees.
Parker, who has had a solid 2016 thus far, dominated and knocked out Ivan Drago-look-alike, 6′ 7″ Alexander Dimitrenko (38-3) on October 1 in New Zealand, The workmanlike New Zealander used speed, power and great body work to deck the giant Russian multiple times before putting him down for good in the third and leaving him writhing in pain from a brutal body shot. With this performance Parker now finds himself at the very top of the mix and in a position to take advantage of Fury’s latest misstep.
Luis Ortiz (25-0) KOed a faded Tony Thompson, but now the former frontrunner is committing career suicide as he decided to leave promotional powerhouse Golden Boy. At age 37, and with no powerful promoter (or—so it appears– savvy mentor) helping him, the talented Cuban has been his own worst enemy and may well disappear from the landscape. This has been bad for him, bad for boxing, and especially bad for the fans, as Luis is a fan-friendly type with a ton of charisma.
Povetkin, Browne and PEDs
PEDs have also worked their way into making 2016 a year to forget as both Alexander Povetkin (30-1) and Lucas Browne (24-0) have been embroiled in controversial cases of alleged usage. The Povetkin issue allowed an undeserving Chris Arreola to fight Deontay Wilder. The result was a predictably easy—but costly– win for Wilder as he suffered a hand injury as well as torn biceps. Wilder started out 2016 by almost decapitating poor Artur Szpilka in January, but now he is done for the year and remains untested.
Browne, who truly deserves better, may fight again before the year is out and if his opponent is less-than-compelling Fres Oquendo (37-8), that would be easy pickings for the Aussie since an aged Fres last fought in July 2014 when he dropped an MD to Ruslan Chagaev—who Browne, of course, iced.
Meanwhile, Povetkin (30-1) has been ordered to fight Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1) for the WBC interim title. Since Wilder is targeting January for his comeback, the winner of Povetkin vs. Stiverne could be challenging for the full version of the title sooner rather than later. Povetkin vs. Wilder would be a big start to 2017 and would finally test The Bronze Bomber.
Unbeaten Andy Ruiz (29-0) has won three so far in 2016 but in a bizarre and inexplicable decision, recently pulled out of a fight with Hughie Fury. A win over Fury (20-0), who is also untested, would have made Ruiz the mandatory challenger for the main event winner’s WBO belt. Of course, it’s now academic since Hughie’s big brother also pulled out. Maybe the “Destroyer” sensed something.
David Haye has disappointed in 2016. He has fought twice against nondescript opposition, and to make bland matters worse, he has seemingly backed out of his verbally agreed fight with loudmouth and aging Shannon Briggs, one that promised a good payday for both. However, David is still immensely popular in the UK and will always draw fans no matter the opposition.
‘From our side, if Wladimir Klitschko against Anthony Joshua can be made for the WBA and the IBF belts, for November 26, we are taking that fight, no question.”—Hearn
A disappointed Klitschko has trained hard, he is ready to fight, and he deserves an opponent like Anthony Joshua—NOW. Joshua is fresh, sharp, and is also ready. A match between the two could save an otherwise dismal year for the heavyweights.
But make no mistake, if Klitschko somehow does not fight this year, a pall of frustration will hover over the entire heavyweight boxing scene. It’s been said time after time, “As goes the heavyweight champion so goes the sport”.