England's Tyson Fury announced Wednesday he is vacating his two heavyweight belts in effort to "fully focus on his medical treatment and recovery," according to a statement from his promoter.
The 28-year-old Fury (25-0, 18 knockouts) has unraveled since defeating former long-reigning champion
Fury first cited an injury to back out of a Klitschko rematch, then apparently submitted a performance-enhancing drug-test sample that is to be addressed at a November hearing.
He then backed out of a later-scheduled Oct. 29 date with Klitschko, and a positive sample for cocaine was later reported to have been confirmed a day after that withdrawal.
The World Boxing Assn. and World Boxing Organization are now free to pursue bouts to establish a new champion.
Klitschko is the No. 1 challenger in both sanctioning bodies. In the WBA, Cuban Luis Ortiz is first in line to fight Klitschko and in the WBO, Joseph Parker is. Yet, Klitschko has been in talks to fight unbeaten International Boxing Federation champion Anthony Joshua.
In its statement, Hennessy Sports said Fury's decision to vacate "will allow him the time and space to fully recover from his present condition without any undue pressure and with the expert medical attention he requires and his close family support."
Fury told Rolling Stone magazine he has ingested cocaine liberally in recent years, and he seemed to mock the cocaine test news by posting a Photoshopped picture of himself seated before a table of cocaine in a Tony Montana scene from the movie "Scarface."
"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 … Klitschko," Fury said in the statement.
"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."