You probably have already heard at least once or 10 times that Tyson Fury plans to fight in December no matter what, with or without Deontay Wilder in a third fight. And with Fury now saying he’s definitely not going to be fighting Wilder in December, but still plans to fight that month, we’ll have a bit of a race as challengers will look to line up.
Fury mentioned Agit Kabayel for a possible Dec. 5 fight in the United Kingdom — which would be Fury’s first at home in the UK since his 2018 win over Francesco Pianeta — and promoter Yvon Michel is looking to throw Oscar Rivas’ name into the mix, too.
“Oscar is fit, available, ranked No 8 by the WBC and would gladly take the challenge. … Rivas would be the best challenge and a fan-friendly fight. … A Fury vs Rivas fight would be a very intriguing and significant fight that will create awareness and attention everywhere. The selection of Rivas is a logical and the best possible choice, no doubt about it!”
Given the pool of potential available optional challengers for Fury, I suppose there is “no doubt” that Rivas would be “logical,” but there is certainly some doubt about the fight’s appeal. Luckily a fight having much appeal is not a huge concern for boxing promoters most of the time, let alone right now when Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO) is seemingly just desperate to fight again before the calendar turns over to 2021.
Rivas (26-1, 18 KO) is a 33-year-old Colombia now based in Canada, co-promoted by Michel and Top Rank (that last part is helpful), and was a standout amateur. He fought at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he upset Kubrat Pulev in the opening round before losing to the Italian Roberto Cammarelle.
As a pro, Rivas has been a little underwhelming on the whole for having an 11-year career coming out of the Olympics, mostly fighting in Canada. He finally scored something of a breakthrough win in Jan. 2019, stopping Bryant Jennings in the 12th and final round, then went to London six months later and was beaten by decision against Dillian Whyte, though he did drop Whyte.
Rivas is also small for a modern heavyweight; he comes in around 235-240 on the scales, but he’s just over six feet tall and would be dwarfed by Fury. He is a good fighter, to be clear, and probably a better fighter than former European champ Kabayel (20-0, 13 KO), but Kabayel might be an easier get and an easier sell. Kabayel is based in Germany so travel wouldn’t be so much of an issue as it could be for Rivas — especially given we don’t know what travel situations will look like in two months — and he’s also unbeaten, which Fury can say over and over and over again in promotional interviews like he did when he fought Tom Schwarz.
But this all has to shake out, too. Though Fury-Wilder 3 isn’t going to happen in 2021, and the word is that the contractual deadline to schedule the fight has passed, Wilder’s team could still raise a stink or do whatever. But it’s also legitimately possible that if Fury feels annoyed by all of it, he’ll just vacate the WBC belt and do what he wants. Fury’s unusually unconcerned with trinkets for a modern prizefighter, not in the sense that he doesn’t seem to appreciate winning them, but he doesn’t seem too hung up on following a bunch of rules to keep them.