Tyson Fury is coming back ... or is he? The WBC heavyweight world champion insisted he would be retiring after his sixth-round stoppage win over Dillian Whyte in April, but recently teased he would be persuaded to box again -- if he gets paid £500 million.
"I'm telling you the truth -- if you want me out of retirement, it's going to cost half a billion," Fury said.
Here's a look at Fury's options and what the likely next move is for the self-proclaimed Gypsy King.
Faces winner of Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua rematch
When your bank balance is in the multiple millions, motivation becomes more than money and Fury's decision to box again will not be determined by his recent ultimatum about needing £500 million. If Fury returns, he will face the winner of Usyk-Joshua II for the chance to secure his legacy -- not for money -- and a place in history as his era's most dominant heavyweight.
Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) is young enough (he turns 34 in August) to box on, so resisting the temptation to secure his legacy and claim the other three world title belts to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era seems unlikely, no matter what he says about retiring and needing half a billion to fight on. That will be the true incentive for Fury.
Fury would be a big favorite against either Usyk or Joshua, and an all-English clash against Joshua next summer would be bigger than any fight Fury has been involved in. Fury and Joshua verbally agreed to fight each other in 2020, only for the rival English fighters to then make other plans. Fury-Joshua was valued at $200 million two years ago and remains one of the biggest fights to be made in boxing.
Fury might make an interim move before facing either Usyk or Joshua most likely in spring or summer of 2023, but walking away from boxing before at least fighting Usyk and/or Joshua would not favor Fury kindly when it comes to assessing his career, and he knows that.
Stays retired, never boxes again
Fury's demand (if he sticks to it) that he will only fight on for a staggering half-a-billion payday would seem to rule him off ever fighting again as no fight -- not even a clash with Joshua -- would guarantee him that sort of a purse.
Fury sounds convinced that he is happy in retirement and told Talk TV: "I've no interest in fighting anymore, enough is enough. But I've said I'll come back for half a billy [billion]. If that's not ridiculous enough to believe I don't know what is. When that numbers are on the table I will look at it, half a billy is half a billy."
We've learned not to always take Fury seriously -- he has made outrageous remarks before. Less than a year ago, Fury confirmed what his next five fights would be after fighting Deontay Wilder for a third time. Fury's plan included two fights with Joshua and he said: "Then I might take two years off, go nuts again and then come back at 37 and do it all again because you can't write me off."
Fury has also already come out of retirement, when he returned after 2½ years away from the sport following his win over Wladimir Klitschko to become world champion in 2015.
But, what could crucially influence Fury's decision is the outcome of the rematch between Usyk and Joshua.
After ruling as the undisputed cruiserweight world champion, Usyk became a two-weight world champion with a dominant decision win over Joshua in September last year. Russia's invasion of Usyk's homeland of Ukraine and the ongoing war there have delayed the rematch until August.
A second successive defeat for Joshua would damage the chances of Fury and Joshua ever fighting. Would Fury then feel motivated enough to fight Usyk for less money than a clash with Joshua?
Boxes a contender next
Joe Joyce (13-0, 13 KOs) is the WBC's highest-ranked contender below Deontay Wilder, who Fury has beaten twice in three fights (the other was a draw). Conveniently, Joyce also works with British promoter Frank Warren, like Fury.
A clash against Joyce would do well at the gate and with pay-per-view sales in the United Kingdom, but is unlikely until the end of the year since Joyce faces Christian Hammer on July 2.
Joyce, a silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics, would be a dangerous fight for Fury. Derek Chisora and Daniel Dubois would be other options.
Career change, enters WWE, never returns to boxing
Fury is made for WWE, with all his bombast and braggadocio, and has even dabbled in it already: a count-out win over Braun Strowman in Saudi Arabia in 2019 reportedly earned him £12 million.
Fury said recently he wanted to feature at SummerSlam in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 30. That seems too soon. However Fury could be involved in WWE's Clash at the Castle event in Cardiff, Wales, on Sept. 3, the biggest wrestling event in the U.K. in the past 30 years.
With recent stars of WWE retiring -- The Undertaker and Triple H -- Fury would be a welcome boost for the wrestling promotional company. Former boxers, from Mike Tyson to Floyd Mayweather, have gone down the same path. But don't expect the Gypsy King to move full time to WWE instead of continuing his boxing career just yet. It's likely Fury will be seen in WWE again -- something that could offer him a lucrative income with less risk than prizefighting.
Boxes UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou next
Fury even teased fans by posing with Ngannou in the ring after Fury beat Whyte at Wembley Stadium in April. The pair then talked about a boxing clash during an interview on ESPN, but nothing has progressed since about the potential encounter.
Ngannou, 35, is currently out with a knee injury, and a clash with Fury is unlikely for this year due to the Cameroonian's contractual commitment to UFC. However, if it can be worked out, Fury-Ngannou could be the interim bout/event before Fury could face Usyk or Joshua.
This seems a certainty at some point, given the interest in Fury, but it won't influence plans for his boxing career. He has plenty to say, on any subject, and is an entertaining figure. Fury, along with his wife Paris and their children (now six of them), have already been the focus of reality TV, and there will no doubt be more with the final chapters of his boxing career still to be played out.