Tyson Fury stripped of his IBF title
Manchester fighter forfeits the IBF title for accepting a rematch with Klitschko next year
Tyson Fury has been stripped of his IBF belt ten days after beating Wladimir Klitschko to become the heavyweight champion of the world. The 27-year-old Manchester fighter still holds the WBA and WBO belts (the WBC belt is held by American Deontay Wilder) but he forfeits the IBF title for accepting a rematch with Klitschko next year, rather than first fighting the IBF's mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov.
Fury beat Klitschko on points in Dusseldorf on 28 November and while most of the focus since then has been about whether he should be thrown off the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, Fury finds himself sanctioned by the IBF.
"It's true he's been stripped of his IBF belt," confirmed Lindsey Tucker, championships chairman at the IBF. Speaking to the BBC, he added: "Our challenger was Vyacheslav Glazkov, but instead Fury's gone and signed a rematch clause with Wladimir Klitschko."
Glazkov, like Klitschko, a Ukrainian, has won 21 of his 22 professional fights and is regarded as a worthy challenger, but the decision of the IBF illustrates the political complexity of world-title boxing. Fury's contract for last month's title fight with Klitschko contained a rematch clause, and unsurprisingly Klitschko – who was dethroned after 11 years – has invoked the clause, although the date and the venue for the sequel have yet to be decided. The IBF decision infuriated Fury's camp, with his uncle, Peter, telling IFL TV: “It's just politics. Tyson should not be losing his belt. He is the proper champion and the IBF should want him to have the belt, rather than giving it up so people on a much lower scale can fight for a bogus title."
With Fury stripped of the IBF belt, Glazkov will fight American Charles Martin for the vacant title, while the Englishman prepares for his rematch against Klitschko. In the meantime Fury might also be interviewed by the Greater Manchester Police after they confirmed they were investigating an allegation of a hate crime. A spokeswoman for the GMP said on Tuesday: "At 10.30am this morning, we received a report of a hate crime following comments made about homosexuality on the Victoria Derbyshire programme. As with all allegations of hate crime, we are taking the matter extremely seriously and will be attending the victim's address to take a statement in due course."
Tyson Fury: is Britain's new heavyweight champion a bigot?
Tyson Fury stunned the boxing world by beating Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf on Saturday night to become WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight champion.
The 27-year-old 'Gypsy Warrior' had been written off as a clown in the build-up to the fight but his campaign of mind games appeared to have paid off as he outfought the Ukranian, who had not lost a fight for 11 years, to win a unanimous points decision.
"What he pulled off in Dusseldorf ranks among the greatest feats by a British boxer," writes Ben Dirs of the BBC. "It might rank among the greatest feats by a British sportsman, full stop."
But Fury, who comes from the Traveller community and whose family has a long history of bare-knickle fighting, is a divisive figure and not everyone is celebrating his shock win.
"The crowning of Fury will be seen by many as yet more evidence of how low the heavyweight division has fallen," says Dirs. "Often uncouth, often outrageous, often embarrassing, Fury does not possess the grace they like to see in a champion."
That's putting it mildly according to some. Fury is no more than "an ordinary slugger with repugnant opinions", says Matt Dickinson in The Times.
He possesses an "Old Testament fanaticism", has compared homosexuality to paedophilia and threatened journalists in the build-up to the fight, says Dickinson. "Salute his victory if you want, but the tale of the tape shows Fury to be a very big man with a closed, bigoted mind."
Labour MP Chris Bryant, the former shadow sports secretary and shadow leader of the house, was among those to reject Fury. He accused him on Twitter of the kind of "aggressive" and "foul homophobia" that leads to suicides.
But perhaps Fury is just misunderstood, says Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian. "He is a fragile man... He has admitted to bouts of depression. There is a wildness and candour to his nature that is endearing and dangerous, to him, at least. He has said some unfortunate things, and he surely regrets them.
"As the supposed standard bearer of a business that struggles for integrity at the best of times, he might like to curb his enthusiasms – without losing the inner energy that makes him what he is."
Others believe he should be lauded. His victory was the biggest upset since Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in 1990, says Jeff Powell in the Daily Mail, and Britain "should stand ready to salute him".
"The manner in which he wears the crown will affect how quickly the British public take him to their hearts," he admits, but claims: "The stunts, the antics and the provocative opinions were outspokenly expressed in order to sell the fight on pay-TV back home.
"Britain needs to see more of the nice guy behind the Batman mask," he adds.
And he has the capacity to enliven a moribund sport, adds Steve Bunce in The Independent. "It is safe to say the fun is back in heavyweight boxing," he writes.