LONDON (AP) — Tyson Fury has vacated his WBO and WBA world heavyweight boxing titles to concentrate on his treatment and recovery from drug use and other personal issues.
Fury's promotors released a statement early Thursday confirming the decision. It comes in the wake of his second withdrawal from a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko — scheduled for Oct. 29 — after being declared "medically unfit" by his team and following his admitted bingeing on cocaine and alcohol.
"I'm unable to defend at this time and I have taken the hard and emotional decision to now officially vacate my treasured world titles and wish the next in-line contenders all the very best as I now enter another big challenge in my life which I know, like against Klitschko, I will conquer," the British boxer said in a statement.
"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."
The 28-year-old Fury faced the prospect of being stripped of the titles when the British Boxing Board of Control scheduled a meeting this week and its general secretary, Robert Smith, acknowledged the heavyweight's "recent issues" would be up for discussion.
Fury has not fought since beating Klitschko in November 2015 to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF titles. He was stripped of the IBF title soon after beating Klitschko, for not fighting a mandatory challenger.
His decision to vacate the WBO and WBA belts could set up a bout between Klitschko and Anthony Joshua to unify the heavyweight titles, with negotiations between the two camps reportedly underway.
Fury's promotional company, Hennessy Sports, released the statement confirming the boxer's decision to relinquish the titles "out of respect for the governing bodies, the sport of boxing and the heavyweight division."
The statement said the break will also allow Fury "the time and space to fully recover from his present condition without any undue pressure and with the expert medical attention he requires."
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine this month, Fury is quoted as saying he has been bingeing on cocaine and alcohol to deal with manic depression.
"I've been out drinking, Monday to Friday to Sunday," Fury was quoted as saying. "I've taken drugs, cocaine, on many, many occasions for the last six months."
In the interview, he also described himself as a "manic depressive" and reportedly added: "I just hope someone kills me before I kill myself."
The World Boxing Organization said in a statement earlier this week that Fury had 10 days to show why his WBO belt "should not be vacated due to inactivity, breach of contract and performance-enhancing drugs and stimulants."
The WBO confirmed it received a report from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) in the United States showing that Fury failed a drug test on Sept. 22, and asked Fury if he has requested analysis of a 'B' sample. The WBO also said it received information from the British board that Fury refused to be drug-tested last month.