Last night the Manchester-born former Irish champion announced that he would voluntarily give up his remaining WBA and WBO (along with the lightly-regarded IBO) belts as he looks to focus on recovering from mental health issues.
Unbeaten Fury claimed the the three belts, along with the IBF strap, last November in Duesseldorf with a shock win over Wladimir Klitschko. However, his time has champion has been beset by outside-the-ring issues.
Fury described how “I feel that it is only fair and right and for the good of boxing to keep the titles active and allow the other contenders to fight for the vacant belts that I proudly won and held as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko,”
The 28 year old expressed sadness regarding the decision, but promised that he would overcome his illness.
Fury outlined how “I won the titles in the ring and I believe that they should be lost in the ring, but I’m unable to defend at this time and I have taken the hard and emotional decision to now officially vacate my treasured World titles and wish the next in-line contenders all the very best as I now enter another big challenge in my life which I know, like against Klitschko, I will conquer.”
The move promises to open up the division, with two of the major four belts now going up for grabs. At present, Deontay Wilder (WBC) and Anthony Joshua (IBF) hold the other two recognised belts. The lineal title can be revived should TBRB #1-ranked heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko face #2-ranked Alexander Povetkin (the pair have already fought in 2013, with Klitschko taking a points win).