Boxing’s big day: Fury remains king of the ring, but will he stay there? Do we need Estrada-‘Chocolatito’ 4?

Boxing

After Tyson Fury’s one-sided TKO victory over Derek Chisora at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, Mike Coppinger shares what should be next for Fury and reacts to Fury’s comments during his postfight interview about a right-hand injury and possible right elbow surgery. Is he finally heading for the most-anticipated undisputed fight against Oleksandr Usyk next? Connor O’Halloran, who was on site for the event, reflects on what was a giant night for Fury in London and also offers his take on Daniel Dubois’ chances against the top of the division after being dropped three times before getting a stoppage win.

Also on Saturday, Juan Francisco Estrada edged Roman “Chocolatito Gonzalez for a majority decision victory in their trilogy fight in Glendale, Arizona. It was another classic, but do we need a fourth fight? If not, who should be next for both? Coppinger shares his thoughts.

Fury-Usyk could be next, but when?

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Tyson Fury says before his next fight, he will need surgery on his right elbow.

Fury appeared razor sharp in a routine heavyweight title defense against Chisora, a trilogy fight he won via 10th-round TKO, and now, “The Gypsy King” could move on to some truly compelling matchups.

Chief among them: a battle with Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship that’s in negotiations for springtime in Saudi Arabia.

When Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) will be ready to fight again is unclear, though. After he finished shouting obscenity-laced insults at Usyk during his postfight interview on Saturday, Fury revealed that he suffered a right-hand injury during the bout, and, more troublesome, would likely require surgery on his nagging right elbow.

The recovery timetable for that surgery is likely six to eight weeks, per Fury, who had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow following his victory over Deontay Wilder last October. Fury, 34, required pain-numbing cortisone shots in both elbows before that 11th-round KO victory to retain his heavyweight championship.

“Let’s give the fans one champion, one name, one face,” Fury said. “Usyk is up for the challenge. He came over tonight, so fair play to him. He’s not an easy boxer to figure out. He’s a slick southpaw mover, with very good skills, Olympic gold medalist and on some good form, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

If a deal can’t be finalized to meet Usyk, Fury said he would turn to Joe Joyce, who was watching ringside, the strong-as-an-ox heavyweight contender coming off an impressive 11th-round KO of Joseph Parker in September.

“Sometimes the big fights don’t happen for whatever reason, but I have a good feeling this one is going to happen,” Fury said. “But if it doesn’t for XYZ reasons, then we’ll have Joe Joyce at Wembley next year as well. But providing the Usyk one does happen, I’ll do him, then I’ll have Joyce at Wembley, why not?”

Hopefully, Fury ends up fighting both Usyk and Joyce. It’s exceedingly likely a matchup with Usyk will materialize first. The bout will surely deliver a career-high payday for Fury and is on the short list of the best fights boxing can offer.

Usyk is a splendid boxer who won both an Olympic gold medal and the undisputed cruiserweight championship. He defeated Anthony Joshua to capture three heavyweight titles last year and defended them successfully in the August rematch. If anybody out there can end Fury’s title reign, it’s surely Usyk, the 35-year-old Ukrainian who is ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer (Fury is No. 6.)

Besides Usyk and Joyce, Fury could always revisit talks for a highly anticipated grudge match with Joshua. And while it appeared Fury resolved his business with Wilder following one of the greatest heavyweight trilogies of all time, the American can guarantee himself another shot at Fury’s WBC title with a win over Andy Ruiz Jr., a fight that’s being planned for early next year.

“The Gypsy King” claimed he was retired following an April knockout victory over Dillian Whyte, but suddenly, he’s lining up multiple opponents for the future.

“Let me get through the Usyk fight and then back to Vegas for Wilder 4 …” Fury said. “I just think I can beat anybody. I’m on a roll. I’m back on top of the world, ruling the division with an iron fist.” — Coppinger


Fury showed in London that he is the king of boxing — again

The chanting started at Seven Sisters station, a half-hour walk from the Stadium and hours before the main event started.

“There’s only ooonnneeee Tyson Fury! Onneeee Tyson Fury,” a group of men chanted.

A short walk further was a street salesman flogging Fury scarves, proudly displaying the heavyweight champ’s face. Fury merchandise littered the shelves in the stadium shop, while customers crowded the tills. And, amid a cost-of-living crisis, tightening pockets in the U.K., and the FIFA World Cup hogging the limelight, Fury still managed to fill a Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where the temperature dropped to shivering 35 degrees Fahrenheit, fighting against a veteran he already dismantled twice years ago.

Simply put: Nobody in the heavyweight division sells like Tyson Fury.

The chanting continued in the stadium. Ahead of the battering of Chisora, the stadium was treated to Fury’s rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” (Fury released the track as a single to raise money for men’s mental health awareness). Minutes later, Fury walked out to the 1996 England soccer track “It’s Coming Home,” followed by “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. A beautiful rendition of “God Save the King” was sung inside the ring before the fight. You wonder whether Fury thought it was about him.

Is he good for boxing? What he says about his retirement status might not be worth the paper it’s written — not only did he retire after his last fight, he said last week he could fight until he’s 40. And yes, he didn’t step into the ring tonight with Anthony Joshua despite weeks of talk and pantomime, or for an undisputed championship bout against fellow champion Oleksandr Usyk. But at a time when boxing is constantly looking in the mirror and not always liking what it sees, Fury can sell a fight — even by most standards a mediocre one — be entertaining and, most importantly, win. That, no matter how warranted the criticism, cannot be ignored.

The saddest thing for the division now would be a true Fury retirement. He has plenty of options and intriguing fights left, chief of which is a once-in-a-generation unification bout with Usyk. After the fight, he had a Tyson-esque stare-down with Usyk. Then heavyweight contender Joe Joyce got involved. “If this little rabbit [pointing to Usyk] doesn’t want it,” Fury said, turning to Joyce. “Then let me and you go and do Wembley.”

And he would sell that out, too. Fury may have only one belt, but he remains king of the division. — O’Halloran


Estrada-Gonzalez 3 was another classic, but do we need a fourth fight?

Thirty-six rounds couldn’t separate Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez, and a fourth fight might not be able to, either.

These are two special fighters, generational talents who will enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

No matter what they do going forward, the legacies of both Estrada and “Chocolatito” Gonzalez are secured, but it’s the Mexican boxer who finds himself ahead 2-1 in their trilogy following a majority decision victory on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona.

The result was far from convincing but wasn’t nearly as controversial as Estrada’s split decision win over Gonzalez in the March 2021 rematch. If they fight again, there’s little doubt it will be entertaining and competed on even terms. At this juncture, we know what we’re going to get when these two meet in the ring, and really, there’s no need for a fourth fight.

The 115-pound division Estrada reigns over is stacked, and there are plenty of fresh matchups for each man that are highly compelling.

The winner of the title unification between Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo is one great option. Ioka is an elite fighter in his own right, and with a victory over Franco, he would establish himself as the biggest threat to Estrada.

Franco, the older brother of Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, could earn a crack at either Estrada or Gonzalez with an impressive performance, win or lose. Maybe the winner is matched with Estrada while the loser lands a fight with “Chocolatito.”

But there are other options, too. Nonito Donaire, a future Hall of Famer, was ringside and is primed for a bantamweight vacant title fight with Jason Moloney next year. If Estrada wants to chase a third division title, a matchup with Donaire at 118 pounds would be fascinating.

And then there’s the aforementioned Rodriguez, who broke through this year with victories over Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, two men well accustomed to Estrada and Gonzalez. “Bam” Rodriguez vacated his 115-pound title to compete at 112 but could always return in a pinch for the right matchup.

There’s also the possibility Gonzalez calls it a career. He turns 36 in June, an advanced age for the smaller weight classes, and said he would contemplate retirement after the bout.

And whether we need to see it or not, there’s still a good chance Estrada and Gonzalez meet one more time. Estrada, 32, said Gonzalez deserved a fourth fight and would give him the opportunity if he wanted it.

Gonzalez said he’s interested “as long as they pay well.” Through three fights, it’s been money well-earned for two special boxers. — Coppinger


Is Dubois ready for the best heavyweights in boxing?

Daniel Dubois spent fight week making his case for a major title shot. He wanted to face Usyk, he said, for who he is WBA mandatory challenger. And if not Usyk, then maybe Fury or Anthony Joshua.

“I’m looking to go to the big leagues,” he told ESPN ahead of the fight. But he really needs to escape the shadow fellow heavyweight contender Joe Joyce bestowed upon him two years ago.

If Saturday’s fight was about Dubois proving he is still the division’s future, then his nightmare first round against South Africa’s Kevin Lerena showed the opposite. He was dropped three times in the first round by Lerena — the second he took a knee voluntarily. He rallied and regained his composure in the second round before delivering a highlight-reel knockout in the third.

But that performance won’t scare the biggest in the division.

The heavyweight division is being held hostage by the trio of Fury, Usyk and Joshua, who have plans to face each other before looking elsewhere, so maybe it’s time Dubois is angled to be the true challenger to the division. He could go after the power-punching 23-year-old Jared Anderson, or Filip Hrgovic, Usyk’s IBF mandatory challenger. Maybe a rematch with Joyce would be enough to do it, but not just yet.

Anyhow, before facing one of the big three, Dubois should test his mettle against the division’s other contenders. — O’Halloran

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