Tyson Fury declared “enough is enough” as he appeared to bring his professional boxing career to an end but the WBC heavyweight champion is tempted by exhibition bouts and another foray into wrestling.
Fury retained his world title and extended his unbeaten record to 33 fights, with 32 wins and a draw, after defeating British rival Dillian Whyte via sixth-round stoppage at a packed out Wembley Stadium.
Having ended Wladimir Klitschko’s long reign as world champion and gotten the better of Deontay Wilder in a bruising trilogy, Fury is widely considered the best fighter in his division and a modern great.
He therefore indicated he has no interest in facing either Oleksandr Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, or another domestic adversary in Anthony Joshua, seemingly announcing his retirement instead.
“I’ve given 20 years to boxing, amateur and professional,” said Fury. “I’ve had my brains knocked about, been put down, dropped, cut, I’ve had tough fights, draws, wins, I’ve boxed all over the world.
“How much blood can you get out of a stone? I’ve given everything and put it on the line every single time and enough is enough. If it was about money I’d continue but it ain’t about money, so I’m happy.
“It’s never been about money, I’m not a money person. I know a lot of people who have money, big money, but none of them are happy, not one of them.
“Money cannot make happiness, it’s not been about belts for me, it’s not legacies, it’s not been about anything apart from punching a motherf*****’s face in on the night. All I ever want to do is win.”
A rematch between Usyk and Joshua is penciled in for this summer – the unbeaten Ukrainian prevailed in their original showdown in September last year – although Fury would not offer a prediction.
“As Clark Gable would say: frankly I just don’t give a damn who wins,” said Fury. “It’s none of my business.”
Fury’s wish to “retire undefeated” as Rocky Marciano did almost 66 years ago to the day should perhaps be taken at face value even if those close to him have cast doubt on him staying true to his word.
But, ever the showman, the 33-year-old does not want to drop off the grid entirely as he plots following the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson into exhibition showcases.
In his crosshairs is UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who joined Fury in the ring immediately after his win over Whyte.
But while the Nigerian has expressed an interest in a crossover bout, the mixed martial artist is not expected to compete again until at least next year following knee surgery.
“I want to have fun, I’m an entertainer,” said the larger-than-life Fury, who conducted his post-fight press conference on Saturday wearing only underpants with ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ written on them.
“I’ll not rule out exhibitions, for sure. I entertain, it’s what I do best.
“Big Francis Ngannou was here. He’s on my hitlist in an exhibition fight, in a cage, in a boxing ring, boxing gloves, UFC gloves, we can make it happen. That’d be a clash of titans, for sure.”
Another avenue open to Fury is a return to World Wrestling Entertainment after a brief stint at Vince McMahon’s company in late 2019.
And the self-styled Gypsy King is intrigued by the idea of appearing at the WWE’s first major stadium show in the UK in 30 years when Cardiff hosts an event in September.
“I’ve got to speak to Vince and the boys, maybe make this happen,” said Fury. “Don’t rule me out of fighting there.”
While Fury himself acknowledged bowing out of professional boxing would disappoint a large number of people, co-promoter Frank Warren stressed he is not thinking about ways to change his charge’s mind.
“I’m not even going to go there,” said Warren. “He’s the guy who gets in the ring and takes the punches.
“If he doesn’t feel that he wants to fight then I am not going to try and coerce and force him to do it because that’s how fighters get hurt.”
Fury dictated the tempo in front of 94,000 spectators – a post-war British record – on a chilly London evening and then delivered an explosive finish with a devastating uppercut on Whyte, who rose to his feet but was clearly on unsteady legs, leading to referee Mark Lyson calling a halt to the contest.
While Whyte was left to contemplate a third career defeat in 31 bouts, the 34-year-old Jamaican-born Londoner received words of encouragement from Fury in his dressing room afterwards.
“I gave him a kiss and a cuddle, I thanked him,” added Fury. “I said ‘you’ll be a world champion, Dillian, but you just had to meet a great of the game’ and that was it.
“He gave it his best. There’s no embarrassment losing to a better man on the night.”