There is considerably more money on offer in crossover fighting exhibitions than there currently is for professional fighters who are going head-to-head in their respective sports. The advent of YouTubers going toe to toe with MMA and boxing stars of yesteryear has been the catalyst for record purses being earned which has – perhaps understandably – seen a change in priority for some of the fighting industry’s biggest names. 

Fury set to fight an exhibition match in Saudi Arabia

Tyson Fury is one such name who has put his career on hold to take part in one of these aforementioned matches. The Englishman is set to fight former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia at the end of October in a match he is predicted to win.

The current Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou odds list the WBC champion as the favourite at short odds of just 1/12 to win.

While there are still seven weeks to go before the ten-round contest in Riyadh, it’s unlikely that the latest boxing odds will change dramatically with Fury the overwhelming favourite to beat Ngannou who is seen as more of a specialist in the Octagon than the boxing ring.

However, despite Fury being tipped to make light work of Ngannou, it has been revealed that a rematch clause has been inserted into the official contract between the pair. It is a development that will be of major concern to boxing purists who expected Fury to fight either Anthony Joshua or Oleksandr Usyk after his bout with Ngannou. 

In short, this indicates that there is likely to be another crossover showdown with Ngannou which essentially means that the top of the heavyweight boxing division will remain dormant for at least another year.

The WBC threatens to strip Fury of his belts 
News of this rematch clause has forced the powers that be of world boxing to issue Fury with the threat of being stripped of his belts if he does not fight the mandatory challenger following his match in Saudi Arabia. 

It isn’t surprising to see the WBC’s governing body acting so speedily after what has been a farcical year in heavyweight boxing in terms of getting the top-ranked fighters to go head-to-head. In the last 12 months alone, Fury has been unable to agree deals to fight Joshua and Usyk which has seen the division grind to a halt. 

There is little doubt that patience among boxing fans is also wearing thin as the best in the world are seemingly never prepared to fight each other. 

A lost era?
Indeed, more than ever, fans want to see who the best heavyweights of the era are instead of crossover exhibitions that hold little significance in the long run. Concerningly, it looks like these crossover bouts are here to stay, and with Fury signing off on a potential rematch, it appears as if the 35-year-old is prioritising the financial rewards on offer over his reputation as the greatest boxer of all time.

This is Fury’s prerogative and it should be said that he has earned the right to decide who he fights, the only shame is that it has left a question mark over this era of professional heavyweight boxing.  Furthermore, if someone of Fury’s generational prowess decides that it’s worth abandoning his legacy in order to chase the riches of exhibition bouts then it’s difficult to see how boxing’s rule makers get the best to ever fight each other again.