AFTER all the rumours, the Instagram callout videos, the shifting of goalposts, the 70/30 split, the rematch clause, the removing of the rematch clause, and the many childish insults, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk ultimately went their separate ways on Wednesday (March 23), with no handshake completed, no contract signed, and no fight on the horizon.

It was on that Wednesday a pie-in-the-sky date of April 29 was finally put to bed. It was also on that day Fury and Usyk, an attention-seeking couple of Meghan and Harry proportions, cut short their respective training camps (if indeed they had even begun them) and looked elsewhere – for money, for an opponent, for attention.

Which, of course, as heavyweights they can both do, quite easily. It is kind of frustrating, too, the ease with which heavyweights like Fury and Usyk can avoid one multi-million-dollar payday and then just as soon find another one located in a different direction, for which the risk might not be so great.

It tends to only be at heavyweight such luxuries exist and certainly here, in the case of Fury and Usyk, it is only natural to attribute their blatant ducking of one another to the fact that, for both, easier paydays are out there. Lucky for them, while superfights in lower weight classes are often made through sheer desperation (for a payday and for a shot at superstardom), it is usually in the heavyweight division you can afford to be a bit pickier and therefore more risk averse.

Hopefully this theory doesn’t apply to Fury and Usyk going forward. Hopefully they sort out their issues and fight each other this year, if not in April, perhaps in June, or maybe even July.

Until then, though, here are some other possibilities for two men who are clearly so ego-driven and money-motivated they cannot see when a good thing is right in front of their face.

Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 3, 2022 (Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Tyson Fury

1 Anthony Joshua, 24-3 (22)

Reasons for it happening: This is just one of many fights probably past its sell-by-date but still tasty and edible enough to appeal to anybody with an empty stomach. It should still happen, even in 2023, mostly because Fury and Joshua remain the two biggest stars in British boxing and because, having spoken about this fight for so long, it would represent a missed opportunity on the part of both if they somehow ended their careers without ever having shared a ring. More importantly, as far as Fury and Joshua are concerned, there is an absolute goldmine to be unearthed by joining forces and doing business in either a UK football stadium or, alas, some soulless circus tent in the Middle East.

Level of appeal: (****) As before, and as always, Fury vs. Joshua marries the two biggest names in British boxing and offers enough potential drama, as well as enough of a backstory, to carry its appeal right until the day both men retire. The only downside, of course, is that Joshua, in all the time they have spent dilly-dallying, has lost twice to Oleksandr Usyk, which, whether those behind Joshua want to admit it or not, kind of removes some of the shine and curiosity from a fight against Fury.

Anthony Joshua (Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

2 Joe Joyce, 15-0 (14)

Reason for it happening: Shortly after beating Joseph Parker in the 11th round of one of the better heavyweights fights of last year, Joe Joyce won the praise of Tyson Fury, who said Joyce was the best heavyweight in the world not named Tyson Fury. That, as far as I’m aware, was the first time Fury had properly acknowledged Joyce since the 2016 Olympic silver medallist turned pro and by virtue of him doing so had many wondering what would happen should the two one day meet. Even Fury himself finished the video by saying, “On his day, given his moment, who knows if he could beat me or not? I think we’ll have to find out one of these days.”

Level of appeal: (***): Definitely one of the better fights to be made at heavyweight, Joyce would appear, on paper, to be capable of asking Fury the sort of questions no other heavyweight has been able to ask so far. In other words, while he may not possess the power of Deontay Wilder, he more than makes up for that in terms of his stamina, his chin, and his uncanny ability to find a way to grind down even the most durable heavyweights.

Joe Joyce (James Chance/Getty Images)

3 Andy Ruiz, 35-2 (22)

Reason for it happening: During the uncertainty that marred Fury vs. Usyk this week, there came a social media post from Andy Ruiz suggesting he would be more than happy to fill any void created by two heavyweights with egos greater than their desire to be crowned number one. He did so by publishing a mock-up Fury vs. Ruiz poster and suddenly, having not considered him before, there seemed the very real prospect of Ruiz making himself a relevant force in the division again, just as he was back when taking a late-notice fight against Anthony Joshua in New York.

Level of appeal: (**): While the temptation is there to forever dine out on that Joshua win in 2019, Ruiz finally returned to the ring, belt-less and a few pounds lighter, when beating Chris Arreola in 2021 and Luis Ortiz in 2022. In both of those fights he showed that he was still an entertaining contender, if not quite an elite heavyweight, yet, no matter his progress, it is still hard to scrub the image of him trudging after a reluctant Joshua during their rematch in Saudi Arabia in December 2019. Faced with the same physical disadvantages in any fight against Fury, it is equally hard to imagine a scenario in which Ruiz wins a round against the “Gypsy King”, much less the fight.

Andy Ruiz Jr and Luis Ortiz do battle in Los Angeles (Harry How/Getty Images)


Oleksandr Usyk

1 Joe Joyce, 15-0 (14)

Reason for it happening: Joyce is ranked at number one with the WBO, which means he is due his shot at Usyk’s belt sooner rather than later, and is probably deserving of it, too. Since turning pro in 2017, the Londoner has been matched well and seems, unlike some, genuine when he says he will happily take on tough challenges and fight all-comers. Moreover, Joyce and Usyk have history, having fought as amateurs in the World Series of Boxing in 2013.

Level of appeal: (****) Yet to be involved in a bad fight, Joyce has become one of the more watchable heavyweights in recent times and would be an interesting style matchup for both Fury and Usyk. Indeed, such is his aggression and toughness, the only two names that come to mind when contemplating which of the current heavyweights might be able to deal with what Joyce brings are Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. It would be a crying shame therefore if we never got to see one of those two attempt to extinguish the kind of fire that appears never to relent.

Joe Joyce after defeating Joseph Parker in Manchester on September 24 (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

2 Daniel Dubois, 19-1 (18)

Reason for it happening: There is no reason for this fight to happen other than the fact Dubois holds a ridiculous WBA “Regular” heavyweight title and is therefore next in line to fight for the actual title, held by Usyk, in the near future. That aside, there is no basis on which this fight should take place, with Usyk on one side of the experience scale and Dubois, still a relative novice with zero wins of note, at the complete opposite end.

Level of appeal: (*) For all his power and potential, it is hard to see Dubois experiencing anything other than a thorough thrashing at the hands of a man as skilled and savvy as Oleksandr Usyk. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, Dubois was picking himself up off the canvas having been taught the first harsh lesson of his pro career against Joe Joyce. Needless to say, as tempting as it may be to chase the fight for financial reasons, cooler heads should be guiding Dubois, still only 25, away from Usyk for the sake of his long-term development. Give it a couple more years and, who knows, the division could then be his.

Daniel Dubois (David Martin-Warr/DKP)

3 Deontay Wilder, 43-2-1 (42)

Reason for it happening: Of all the possible combinations of heavyweights discussed, this is one talked about nowhere near as much as others but one that is no less intriguing. It would be a fight between arguably the best pure boxer and the best pure puncher in the division and it would, in the mind’s eye, be a far more appealing fight, stylistically, than Usyk vs. Fury, despite the fact Fury has twice beaten Wilder.

Level of appeal: (***) No matter the opponent, the prospect of seeing Deontay Wilder detonate his right hand on a heavyweight’s jaw will remain an appealing proposition until the day he calls it quits. What’s more, to beat a man like Usyk, against whom winning rounds seems an impossible task, could require a fighter like Wilder, whose extraordinary power compensates for his lack of technical nous, taking advantage of that one big moment every fighter hopes will come their way in the presence of the Ukrainian.

Deontay Wilder lands on Tyson Fury (Harry How/Getty Images)