After dismantling Deontay Wilder in their enticing trilogy bout, exiting the game an undefeated, undisputed champion within the next year or two is a realistic target for Tyson Fury.
But though the Gypsy King is on the precipice of eternal greatness, as a friend, rather than a fan, Ricky Hatton would be happy to see him hang up his gloves.
Fury cemented his status as the division’s undoubted No 1 as he finally put his long-term rivalry with the Bronze Bomber to bed earlier in October, surviving two heavy knockdowns before delivering a brutal 11th-round knockout in an all-time classic.
Up next could have been an historic all-British undisputed showdown against unified champion Anthony Joshua, but those plans were at least momentarily derailed as he lost his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to the Ukrainian enigma, Oleksandr Usyk.
Fury’s duo of promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum have called for Joshua to step aside and allow for an immediate undisputed match-up between the division’s two top, a suggestion that was laughed off by Eddie Hearn, who instead confirmed a rematch will take place early next year.
In the meantime, Fury, who has not fought in the UK since 2018, will likely make his homecoming at a similar time against one of Dillian Whyte or Joe Joyce. There seems a logical plan: Fury, so long as he emerges victorious, fights the winner of Joshua and Usyk for all the belts.
But Hatton, who thinks Warren and Arum have a case in their plea, stresses it’s not that straightforward.
Tyson Fury defeated Deontay Wilder earlier in October to end their now historic rivalry
Meanwhile, Anthony Joshua lost his collection of belts in a one-sided defeat to Oleksandr Usyk
‘There’s only one fight on Tyson’s mind, which is the AJ fight,’ Hatton told Sportsmail. ‘But if I could rule boxing, I would let Tyson fight Usyk, because at the end of the day they’re the top two. I’d let AJ have a warm-up fight and then fight the winner.
‘But this is what’s ruining boxing: it should be Tyson, you fight your fight and AJ you fight yours and the winner will box each other. But no, you’ve then got to give a rematch, maybe even two rematches.
‘It’s ruining the game. Wilder should never have got a third fight; if he’d put in a fantastic performance in the second, then he gets the rematch. It should be based on performance.
‘It puts the main fights we want on the back burner, just because of contract issues. It’s a nonsense. All it needs, especially in heavyweight boxing, is one punch, one decision to change things and then fights won’t get made for another three years.’
It’s an all-too-familiar tale. Heavyweight boxing is littered with dramatic and unexpected upsets throughout history, most recently highlighted by Dillian Whyte in his defeat to Alexander Povetkin and Joshua with his shock US debut loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.
Further back, legendary figures Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis both suffered entirely unexpected defeats to Buster Douglas and Hasim Rahman respectively, while even Fury’s ambitions could have been halted by a gruesome cut suffered against Otto Wallin prior to his rematch victory over Wilder.
Fury’s plans were nearly halted by a cut suffered against Otto Wallin before his Wilder rematch
Ricky Hatton (right) insists any fight for Fury must be meaningful, or it’s an unnecessary risk
Hatton insists Fury has already proven his worth in the sport, and believes that if it’s not against Joshua or Usyk, any fight is now an unnecessary risk, both for his legacy and, more importantly, his health.
‘Tyson’s proved himself,’ Hatton said. ‘He’s had that trilogy with Wilder, he beat (Wladamir) Klitschko. Tyson’s not like AJ; he’s suffered from depression, drinks and drugs and all he now wants is the defining fights and to get out the game.
‘Let’s have it right, if Tyson wants to retire he’s got nothing more to prove. The only thing that Tyson wants to know in his own mind, just like AJ does, is who the best out of he and AJ is.
‘But Tyson can’t wait another two years while he fights him and he fights him, he’ll want to be in and out now.
‘He deserves it as well. I’m sure his wife Paris doesn’t want to see him stood there getting knocked on his arse every five minutes. Tyson’s done his job now as far as I’m concerned.
‘It’s a shame if the AJ fight doesn’t happen, and if it does it has to happen quickly, because Tyson’s ready for hanging up his gloves now. As his friend, I want him to hang them up – he’s got nothing left to prove.’
Paris Fury (right) believes her husband Tyson (left) will retire from boxing in two years’ time
Unfortunately for Hatton, Fury’s plans are out of his hands, with Arum revealing his fighter will certainly return to the ring early next year.
But Fury’s wife Paris has in fact put a timeframe on her husband’s career, recently insisting she’d like the 33-year-old to be out of the game in the next two years.
Fury admitted he was ‘wounded’ after Joshua lost his belts to Usyk. But Hatton, who insists Fury already belongs among the elites throughout history, insists he must now forget his British rival and focus purely on whoever has the belts.
‘He’s got to forget the AJ fight, it might not happen,’ Hatton explained. ‘He’s got to get the undisputed, get all the belts and retire very proud of where he’s come from.
‘He was at the bottom of the ladder a few years ago, and to be an undefeated undisputed champion, he can hold his head up high for me.’
He continued: ‘Everyone has a different view (on their top heavyweights throughout history). Muhammad Ali will forever be the greatest – in everyone’s mind – for reasons other than boxing.
‘Some would mention Lennox Lewis, while others would say Tyson might have been a bit too tricky. Would it be unfair of me to say he’s got to be around the top five? I would definitely say that.’
Hatton also expressed his delight with a match-up between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul edging closer.
According to reports, the pair will finally take to the ring on December 18, after Fury made his US debut against Anthony Taylor on the undercard of Paul’s victory over Tyron Woodley.
The match-up has raised questions over Fury’s intentions in the sport, but Hatton insists it’s a great career move for the boxer and reality star.
‘I’m made up for him,’ he said of the Paul fight. ‘When the Love Island offer came up, I said to him and his dad that he needs to go on.
‘My job as a trainer and a friend isn’t just to get the fights for you, but it’s to make sure you’ve got enough pennies in the bank.
‘I told Tommy that I thought he could make more going on Love Island. He’s gone on Love Island, made himself a big name and had a few fights here and there and now he’s got Jake Paul.
‘I’m absolutely delighted for him. He’s made a load of money, so yeah go for it.’
Tommy Fury (left) and Jake Paul (right) are reportedly set to fight later this year
Throughout an abundance of trash talk between the pair, Fury has on several occasions insisted he still harnesses ambitions of becoming a world champion.
And while Hatton insists the Brit does indeed have ability, he warns winning a world title and beating Paul are in no way correlated.
‘Tommy’s got a lot of ability, I’ve trained him,’ he said. ‘But being a world champion and beating Jake Paul are two different things.
‘I think he beats Jake Paul, and if he does and he becomes a big name, then he can start to be more ambitious and go for a world title.
‘If he beats him – or if he doesn’t even beat him – I’ll be made up for him, for the life he’s made himself.’
Hatton spoke to Sportsmail on behalf of FightZone, a new broadcast app focusing on small-hall professional boxing
Previously retired heavyweight Dave Allen chose FightZone over DAZN for his comeback win
Hatton was speaking to Sportsmail on behalf of FightZone, which is a new broadcast app that focuses on British small hall professional boxing, showing a live show each week and aiming to help future champions build their careers.
Fightzone has already shown Area Titles and a British title fight, and will be showing two world title fights in November.
‘Dennis Hobson is one of the Fightzone partners and it’s great to be working with him,’ Hatton said of his work with FightZone. ‘I had some of the greatest nights of my life with him.
‘During lockdown, he opened the outdoor shows and people who might not get an opportunity on BT or Sky got their chance. With shows like that, even though they’re small, with social media these kids can make names for themselves.’
For LIVE boxing action every week – visit Fightzone