British boxer Tyson Fury has given up his WBO and WBA world heavyweight titles "with immediate effect." The world champion said he needs to focus on his "medical treatment and recovery."
The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) met on Wednesday to discuss whether to remove Fury's boxing license following his admission of drug taking and was due to release its decision on Thursday.
This followed the World Boxing Organization issuing a deadline on Monday telling Fury to demonstrate why his title "should not be vacated due to inactivity, breach of contract and performance enhancing drugs and stimulants."
The boxer has admitted taking cocaine to deal with depression and was set to be stripped of his titles after cancelling two planned rematches this year against Ukrainian ex-champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Fury beat the Ukrainian last November to become world champion and a previously scheduled rematch with Klitschko, set for July 9, was scrapped after Fury injured his ankle. His camp also claimed he was "declared mentally unfit to fight." Fury's uncle and trainer Peter Fury said recently that the boxer was "almost at breaking point" and receiving professional help.
The fighter recently canceled a planned October bout at the Manchester Arena with Vladimir Klitschko to defend his WBA and WBO heavyweight belts - in what would have been the 28-year-old's biggest purse of his career.
US broadcaster ESPN reported in early October that Fury had tested positive after providing a urine sample to the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) in Lancaster, England on September 22. Cocaine is an illegal drug but is not banned in boxing if taken out of competition. He is due to face a hearing in November and could have been stripped of his titles if found guilty.
"I feel that it is only fair and right and for the good of boxing to keep the titles active and allow the other contenders to fight for the vacant belts that I proudly won and held as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko," Fury said in the statement released late on Wednesday.
"I won the titles in the ring and I believe that they should be lost in the ring, but I'm unable to defend at this time."
Mick Hennessy, Fury's promoter, said the decision was "heartbreaking."
"Tyson will be back stronger from this and I will make sure, no matter what we have to deal with, Tyson not only comes back but will reclaim what's rightfully his … I'm very proud of my nephew's achievements," Peter Fury, Tyson's uncle and trainer, said.
A rapid change of heart
"Hahahaha u think you will get rid of the GYPSYKING that easy!!! I'm here to stay. #TheGreatest just shows u what the Medea [sic] are like. Tut tut" Tyson Fury wrote on Twitter on October 3, hours after his earlier announcement that he was quitting the sport, when he tweeted: "Boxing is the saddest thing I ever took part in, all a pile of s***, I'm the greatest, & I'm also retired..."
Fury has courted controversy since winning the world title and angered many with a series of sexist and homophobic comments, but his most recent troubles have revolved around drugs tests.
jbh/rc (AFP, dpa)