Tyson Fury recently announced his intention to put the only belt left in his possession on the line in late April when the former world heavyweight king makes a belated comeback to action.
The 29 year-old was warned by Ring Magazine Editor-in-Chief Dougie Fischer last Monday he needed to clarify his intentions to defend the famous ‘Rocky’ strap, which prompted Fury to make the social media pledge a day later.
With a British Boxing Board of Control application made by Frank Warren this week, it’s full steam ahead for Fury’s return to the ring, although ‘2 Fast’ must face somebody in the Ring Magazine Top 5 in order to fulfil the wishes of Fischer and his team.
Looking at the current standings, one and three-ranked Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker are set to battle each other on March 31, with two and five-rated Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz doing similar four weeks prior.
That leaves only number four Alexander Povetkin as an option for Fury should he adhere to the rules laid down in the Ring Magazine official heavyweight rules displayed below.
Championship vacancies can be filled in the following two ways:
THE RING’s Nos. 1 and 2 contenders fight one another.
If the Nos. 1 and 2 contenders chose not to fight one another and either of them fights No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5, the winner may be awarded THE RING belt if the Editorial Board deems the contenders worthy. Here are the seven situations in which a champion can lose his belt:
The Champion loses a fight in the weight class in which he is champion.
The Champion moves to another weight class (for more than one fight).
The Champion does not schedule a fight in any weight class for 18 months.
The Champion does not schedule a fight at his championship weight for 18 months (even if he fights at another weight).
The Champion does not schedule a fight with a Top-5 contender from any weight class for two years.
The Champion retires.
The Champion tests positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Povetkin is free to negotiate should Fury go down that route, but with a two-year-plus absence behind him, a clash with the Russian former WBA title holder seems unlikely and would leave The Ring with a massive decision to make.
As Joshua and Parker are preparing to trade punches, the more feasible scenario could see Fury stripped of the red, white and blue championship for failure to defend against a Top 5 contender, with the title then passing to the four-belt offering between the two current rulers at Cardiff in the spring.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay