Tyson Fury has vacated his WBO and WBA world heavyweight titles effective immediately to "fully focus on his medical treatment and recovery."
The boxer found himself at the centre of a controversy a fortnight ago after admitting to having "done lots of cocaine" in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Fury faced the prospect of having his licence removed – which would have led to being stripped of his belts – by the British Boxing Board of Control on Wednesday (12 October), but he managed to beat them to the punch by making his move first.
The 28-year-old recently pulled out of his bout against Wladimir Klitschko for a second time after being declared "medically unfit" last month. Fury has not fought since beating the Ukrainian in November 2015.
Explaining his decision, Fury 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 when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko," said Tyson.
He added: "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 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."
Fury's move seemingly paves the way for a matchup between Klitschko and Anthony Joshua, with promoter Eddie Hearn saying a deal is "very close."
Paying tribute to the undefeated boxer, promoter Mick Hennessy said: "Tyson will still be the linear world heavyweight champion in everyone's eyes. He beat the most dominant champion in the modern era of boxing on an amazing night in Germany to earn that accolade and that will never change.
"Whilst it's heartbreaking to see Tyson vacate the world titles that he worked so long and hard for all his life, what's paramount now is that he receives the medical treatment along with the love of his family and friends and the support of the boxing world to make a full recovery," he added.