British title challenger Luke Blackledge fears that we’ve seen the last of controversial heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury.
The 28-year-old withdrew from his rematch with Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko for a second time, with the latest reasoning cited as mental health issues.
The pair were initially scheduled to meet on July 9th until an ankle injury sustained by the Brit in training forced the postponement. The October 29th meeting at the Manchester Arena has now been erased as wll.
Fury is also facing a UK Anti-Doping hearing next month after being charged with the use of a prohibited substance.
“I’m really disappointed,” said Blackledge. “I would’ve liked to have seen him defend his belt again against Klitschko.
“He’s probably going to lose his titles now and that’s gutting. He’s accomplished everything he wanted to in the sport when becoming a world champion so that might be it for him now.
“Even if he did want to return he might face a lengthy ban. He’s worked hard to achieve what he has done and then thrown it all away. He’s let himself down and he’s let a lot of other people down.”
Fury has a week to convince the WBO not to strip him of his belt, with chairman Luis Batista-Salas confirming that he could be dethroned due to “inactivity, breach of contract and performance enhancing drugs and stimulants”.
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza has also inferred that the champion could be stripped of his second belt while the British Boxing Board of Control will review Fury’s cocaine admission and decide whether he is able to retain his boxing licence.
“People look up to him because he’s got a lot of fans and support,” said Blackledge. “A lot of people go through this but people need role models, especially young fighters coming through. We will see what happens but I think that’s the last we’ll see of him.”
That debacle has enshrouded Matchroom’s November 26th show in a cloud of uncertainty. Promoter Eddie Hearn is hopeful of making the Anthony Joshua versus Klitschko fight happen in December, meaning the IBF champion would be pulled from headlining next month’s event.
Blackledge is on that undercard, facing Lonsdale Belt holder Callum Smith, but admits that the loss of AJ isn’t really a concern.
“All this with Fury and Klitschko has complicated matters,” he said. “They’ll probably take Joshua off the card and get a new headliner.
“I’m not really bothered, though. It would be good to fight on the undercard of a Joshua fight but my main concern is ensuring that I’m ready to fight.
“It’s my fight that matters and nothing else. It looks as though Joshua will be fighting on a different show in December now.”
Blackledge added: “It’s AJ’s time to fly the flag now. He’s the next big thing but I believe that Fury would’ve beaten him.
“That would have been a massive fight and it’s a huge shame that we’ll probably never get to see it.”