Tyson Fury provides a natural center in the heavyweight division, the man whom every other fighter at the top of the division orbits around. He is the Gypsy King for a reason.
It has been a drama-filled year in the division already, with two world title defenses, the emergence of Joe Joyce (who has proved he can be a legitimate title contender), and the comebacks of Andy Ruiz Jr. and Deontay Wilder. All that comes alongside a looming unification fight that would leave the division with its first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis.
But the wheels started turning -- in all different directions -- on April 23 when Fury defeated Dillian Whyte, then said he was done with the sport. Since that moment, there have been retirements, unretirements, big fights made, big tweets sent and so much more. Here's a look at the roller coaster that boxing fans have been on as of late in trying to keep up with what's happening with their favorite fighters.
April 23: Fury knocks out Whyte and announces retirement
Fury entered 2022 with his status in boxing at an all-time high. His previous fight -- a trilogy-sealing knockout victory over Wilder in October 2021 -- meant he stood at the top of the heavyweight division. Oleksandr Usyk may have held more belts (WBA, WBO, IBF), but it was Fury that remained the ultimate trophy in the division.
It seems Fury knew it, too. In April, he took on Whyte at a packed Wembley Stadium, somewhat of a homecoming for Fury who had not fought in the UK since a pair of tuneup bouts in 2018. He wore a suit emblazoned with tiny crowns at a pre-fight news conference, he sat on a throne during his ring entrance, and at the end he delivered a majestic right uppercut in the fourth round to claim a TKO win. Whyte, who had slogged to earn the right to fight for the world title, looked like a clear second best.
However, it was after the bout that Fury made his most unexpected punch. He retired.
"I promised my wife, Paris, and I meant it," he said. "I had the trilogy with Deontay Wilder and she wanted me to retire then.
"But then I was offered this, and I owed it to the fans and everyone at home in the U.K. I have to be a man of my word, so this might be the last fight."
It was difficult to believe Fury. He hadn't said he would definitely bow out, but then again, he said he had achieved everything he needed to. There was still unfinished business though: The victor between Usyk and Joshua would no doubt be waiting to face him in a fight to become the first undisputed heavyweight world champion since the four-belt era began in 2004. That was always tempting for Fury, who still regards himself as the best in the division. But his stance, publicly, remained the same.
During the same postfight interview, Fury brought in UFC champion Francis Ngannou into the ring and teased a fight between the two.
"Before we go, I want to bring in Francis Ngannou," Fury said in that interview. "I'm boxing heavyweight champion. He is UFC heavyweight champion ... It will be a very special fight, like never seen before in the history of our sport.
"It's going to be an explosive fight when it happens."
Suddenly, fans all began asking themselves a similar question: Had Fury really had enough?
July 20: Fury offers to fight Joshua for free
While "retired," Fury sends a challenge to Joshua saying he will fight him for free if that's what it takes.
"That's how the fight happens, I'll sign the contract today," Fury, 33, said on his Instagram. "The fight's got to be for free. Free-to-air television and all tickets go for free. No money is to be made out of this British historic fight if it happens. There's the terms, I'm in the driving seat, take it or effing leave it. The ball is in your court, guys. ... Either way, I don't give a damn."
Aug. 10: Fury announces Derek Chisora trilogy
Fury knows his audience perhaps more than any other fighter of his generation. He knows which buttons to push and the avenues to deliver his message. He has become somewhat of a frequent caller on British sports radio network TalkSport. One of his first calls came in April when he "confirmed" his decision to retire from the sport, this time reasoning he had nothing left to achieve.
"I've won every belt in the world that there is to win," Fury said. "I've won every single belt there is to win in the sport and I'm getting out healthy, in one piece and undefeated."
However, on Aug. 10, Fury announced that he would return to boxing and planned to face Chisora -- a 38-year-old veteran British fighter whom Fury had already beaten twice in 2011 and 2014.
"I've decided to come back to boxing because I can be the first heavyweight champion in history to have two trilogies, one with Deontay Wilder, a second one with Derek Chisora," Fury wrote on Twitter.
Aug. 12: Fury heads back into retirement
Just finished a touching video conference with @Tyson_Fury who has confirmed his official retirement from boxing . We fully support his decision which is a dream for anyone to retire undefeated and as WBC champion of the world.@WBCBoxing will prepare a special farewell event soon pic.twitter.com/2SgCRILldl— Mauricio Sulaiman (@wbcmoro) August 12, 2022
It was all so short-lived. On Aug. 12, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman tweeted to say he had just spoken to Fury and confirmed his retirement, even arranging plans for a farewell event.
"Just finished a touching video conference with Tyson Fury who has confirmed his official retirement from boxing," Sulaiman wrote. "We fully support his decision which is a dream for anyone to retire undefeated and as WBC champion of the world. WBC boxing will prepare a special farewell event soon."
He did not relinquish the WBC belt, though. The closest he came was two days later when he vacated the Ring magazine belt, although he later told Seconds Out he only did so to let others fight for it.
Aug. 20: Usyk wins rematch over Joshua
Sitting in a quiet room with a dozen reporters around a circular table at the Park Lane Hotel, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn did not mince his words when he talked about Joshua's plans should he claw back his titles from Usyk in their rematch.
"If we win, then we will go fight Fury," Hearn said. As it turned out, he was wrong. Kind of.
Not only did Usyk outpoint Joshua in another impressive showcase of his skill, but he also called out Fury in the ring after the fight.
"I'm sure that Tyson Fury is not retired yet," Usyk said in the ring. "I'm sure. I'm convinced he wants to fight me. I want to fight him. And if I'm not fighting Tyson Fury, I'm not fighting at all."
Meanwhile, Fury played it cool. First, he said he was not interested. But that was not true. In June, he had said he would only come out of retirement in a unification bout with Usyk but said reports of a £200 million purse would not interest him. Speaking to TalkSport, Fury said it would take "half a billi" -- Gypsy King lingo for an astounding £500m -- for him to take the fight. It was ridiculous talk, but the message was clear: He would be prepared to fight Usyk. Since then, his public stance has slowly softened, to the point that the fight seems inevitable.
Sept. 2: Usyk puts unification bout on hold
The worst-kept secret in boxing became clear soon enough: Fury was not really retired.
Usyk has continued to make no secret that the British heavyweight would be his next fight, one of the biggest in boxing history and the biggest fight of his career. The winner would be enshrined as the best of their generation, with little room to argue otherwise. Yet, that is all that would remain on hold.
Usyk said in September he is still highly interested in Fury -- it's one of three fights left on his bucket list before he retires -- but said he is suffering from "old traumas."
"I want the WBC title," he told reporters at a news conference in Kyiv on Sept. 2. "Although many in the boxing world would like this fight, we don't know what Tyson has in his head. Everyone knows that this is a very crazy guy."
Usyk said promoters were working on the fight but made clear he would not fight again this year.
"Fighting Tyson Fury in December is impossible," Usyk added. "For two reasons. First, I have old injuries that need to be treated. They made themselves known. Recovery will take a couple of months.
"Second, I just don't want to box in December. I haven't left the gym for half a year, I want to be with my children, my family, there are certain things to do at home. Boxing can wait a little. Next year, I think it will happen."
Sept. 5: Fury calls out Joshua
Fury sent the British boxing community into a frenzy when he issued a public challenge to Joshua on Sept. 5, saying he would like to give his compatriot the "opportunity" to fight him in December. It is a fight that has been spoken of for half a decade, and which was almost made last year before a court ruling forced Fury to fight Wilder for a third time.
"You're coming off a 12-round fight, so you're match fit, you're ready. I'm giving you a few months' notice," Fury said.
Joshua responded to say Fury was right: He was ready and said he should contact his team to figure out a deal.
Sept. 13: Joshua accepts Fury's challenge
Joshua's management team said in a statement it had accepted "all terms" for the fight which included a 60-40% revenue split in favor of Fury. There remained obstacles, such as agreeing on a tricky-to-make TV deal -- Fury is aligned with ESPN in the U.S. and BT Sport in the U.K.; Joshua is with DAZN.
Sept. 26: Fury's deadline on Joshua fight passes
Fury spent September making repeated call outs of Joshua, urging him to come to the table and agree a deal. Joshua's camp maintained they were accepting terms, but the fight still remained a way off. All of this came to a head on Sept. 26 -- a deadline, set by Fury, for a fight to be made.
When that came and went, he called it off, and has since urged Joshua to sign a contract, despite Matchroom boxing chief Eddie Hearn calling Fury's deadline "unrealistic."
Fury said: "Well, guys, it's official. D-day has come and gone. It's gone past 5 o'clock Monday. No contract has been signed."
Hearn was not so finite, saying a deal could still happen.
"There were various positive calls today between promoters and broadcasters who are all working hard to finalize the fight," Hearn told ESPN. "There has been no talk of a deadline between the parties, but we are moving at pace to try and conclude the deal."
Fury said he would fight fringe German contender Manuel Charr should the Joshua fight not materialize, but immediately went back on his word and continued to snipe at Joshua.
Yet, boxing insiders were convinced the fight always looked unlikely -- too many obstacles and not enough time.
Sept. 29 - Oct. 8: Fury fields calls from Joe Joyce, Andy Ruiz Jr.
If Fury and AJ aren't fighting then I'll step in. December 3rd is tight for me @Tyson_Fury, but @EddieHearn you can give your new best mate @frankwarren_tv a call and I'll take the 17th slot with AJ.— Joe Joyce (@JoeJoyceBoxing) October 1, 2022
Easy fight to make!
☎️ #THEJUGGERNAUT 👊🏾 https://t.co/GKK91DrCHQ
The clock was ticking. Fury posted a picture of himself with his team captioned "Day 1 of Camp" as he prepared for a fight in December, yet who he would face remained a mystery. The past month had seen Fury called out by both Joyce -- the Olympic silver medallist at Rio 2016 who made shockwaves with an impressive knockout victory over Joseph Parker on Sept. 24 -- and former champion Ruiz, who claimed a unanimous decision victory over Luis Ortiz on Sept. 4. Fury deferred both of those until at least next year, with Ruiz aiming to become Fury's mandatory challenger by beating Deontay Wilder in a potential WBC title eliminator.
Lets make this happen 🇺🇸🇲🇽🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/RSqMTrKhu1— AndyRuizJr (@Andy_destroyer1) October 1, 2022
In the end, Fury was left with easier options. He did not continue talks with Charr, even though the German heavyweight grew angry at the sudden U-turn as he urged Fury to "take my challenge, I'm ready for you, man. No excuses."
Yet Fury's excuse is that he is no longer free in December.
Oct. 11: Fury finalizes deal with Chisora
Fury hinted at his hand in April, and despite all of his distractions, he revealed it earlier this month. ESPN reported on Oct. 11 that Fury was finalizing a deal with Chisora to make another defense of his WBC belt. He will face Chisora for a third time on Dec. 3, and Fury's promoter Frank Warren said they intend to fight Usyk in February.
The fight lacks all of the drama and intrigue of a showdown between Fury and Joshua, which now seems a way off yet again.
Oct. 20: Fury confirms trilogy fight with Chisora
Fury and Chisora will meet at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Dec. 3. The fight will be for Fury's WBC world title, and it will be streamed in the U.S. on ESPN+.
If he lands a punch on me, a big swing, I'm getting knocked out," Fury said during Thursday's news conference in London to announce the fight. "If I land a punch on him, a big swing, he's getting knocked out."
Chisora agreed, saying "Physically and mentally, I want to come and take it. I don't want it; I want to physically take it off him."
Fury and Chisora met for the first time in 2011, a unanimous decision victory at Wembley Arena in London. Both fighters were 14-0 at the time. The met again in 2014, an eighth-round TKO victory for Fury at the ExCel Arena in London.