By Jake Tiernan: WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has confirmed that Tyson Fury must make a title defense of his heavyweight belt with their organization after he gets done with his fights with Francis Ngannou and IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Fury & Usyk have a bilateral rematch clause in their contract, which guarantees there will be a second fight between them after their tentatively planned December 23 undisputed championship in Saudi Arabia.
Assuming Fury doesn’t take a year break after picking up his massive paydays against Ngannou & Usyk this year, he should be free to defend his WBC title in the second half of 2024 after his obligatory rematch with Oleksandr in the first part of next year.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a WBC mandatory challenger set for Fury because Deontay Wilder & Andy Ruiz failed to negotiate a fight after the two were ordered by the World Boxing Council to meet in a title eliminator.
The WBC hasn’t ordered another title eliminator, which means that Fury or Usyk will be able to make a voluntary defense of his title next year.
Fury made a mandatory defense against Dillian Whyte in April 2022, so it’s already been over a year since the last one. If the WBC is okay with being lax with their champions defending against mandatory challengers, it’s fine.
“Yes, Tyson Fury is the WBC heavyweight champion regardless, and we are proud, and he’s just been waiting to have the great fight that everyone is expecting,” said WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to Secondsout when asked if WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will be required to defend his belt after his fights with Ngannou & Usyk.
“Yes, he must,” said Sulaiman when asked if Fury must defend his WBC belt after Ngannou.
It would have been better if Sulaiman had said that they’re going to install the #1 ranked WBC contender, Deontay Wilder, as the new mandatory for Fury because it would be a joke if another year rolls by without a defense. If there isn’t a mandatory done next year, it would be over two years without defense.
“This is the Riyadh season belt,” said Sulaiman about the specially made belt that has been created for Fury’s fight against the ex-UFC fighter Ngannou on Saturday night in his pro debut in boxing. “It’s a special commemorative trophy for the winner of this unique event between Ngannou & Tyson Fury.”
Sulaiman wasn’t asked whether there will be a sanctioning fee thrown in as part of the winner of the Fury-Ngannou fight being given the commemorative belt. That would be an obvious question.
If the winner has to pay a ton of money for the honor of being given this trinket belt, what’s the point of having it? It would be just an excuse for the WBC to get some dough by creating the strap for the Fury vs. Ngannoy fight.
“This is just the representation of Tyson Fury, Mike Tyson, my father, Ali, Frazier and Ngannou. No, they didn’t fight for the WBC,” said Sulaiman when asked if this is the same belt that Anthony Joshua fought Andy Ruiz for in their rematch in December 2019 in Saudi Arabia.
It’s more than a little off-putting that Ngannou’s image is going to be on the WBC commemorative belt alongside Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali & Joe Frazier. Is that not making a mockery of a belt, even a trinket one like this?
“It’s [the WBC commemorative belt] unique. It’s one piece for the winner of this event on the Riyadh season. It could be,” Sulaiman said when asked if this belt could be fought over annually for fighters that compete in Saudi Arabia.
“We do the Juneteenth belt for the Freedom belt in the United States to commemorate that special season that we do in May for the Mexicans and the 14th of September. So this is our special trophies for the winner of those fights and bring a little extra art and gifts.
“We’re very excited. We have worked so much. Many people in the WBC has had so much flexibility. We have not pushed any mandatories that are not the real challenge that most challenge for the real title. So, we’ve been patiently waiting for Joshua, and even Wilder was waiting to fight against Joshua. So now it’s coming,” said Sulaiman.