Boxing: Fury to fight Usyk for undisputed heavyweight crown on February 17

AFP , Thursday 16 Nov 2023

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will clash in a "historic" fight for the undisputed heavyweight title in Saudi Arabia on February 17.

Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury, third left, and Oleksandr Usyk, third right, pose alongside promoter Frank Warren, fourth left, actor Sylvester Stallone, centre left, and The Saudi Chairman of General Authority for Entertainment Turki Alalshikh, centre right, during a press conference at Outernet London, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: AP

 

British star Fury will put his WBC belt on the line, with the WBA, IBF and WBO titles held by Ukraine's Usyk also up for grabs in Riyadh.

The winner will be crowned the heavyweight division's first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis from 1999 to 2000.

Fury, 35, and Usyk, 36, were originally expected to clash on December 23.

But Fury's disappointing performance in a split-decision victory over MMA star Francis Ngannou last month forced a delay to the hotly-anticipated bout.

He was left with a swollen eye and cut on the forehead after the contentious win against Ngannou.

Fury had already been criticised for failing to agree a deal with Usyk when a proposed meeting at Wembley in April couldn't be confirmed.

The pair will finally step into the ring in 2024 as Fury looks to add to his record of 34 wins with one draw since turning professional in 2008.

"This is a historic event. The whole world of boxing has been waiting for many, many years, and they now have this fight," Fury's promoter Frank Warren told reporters at a press conference in London on Thursday.

"For the first time this century, we will have an undisputed heavyweight champion.

"As a promoter, I've been banging my head against the wall. But now we have the creme de la creme. These two undefeated heavyweight fighters."

'Cement my legacy'

In a typically combative mood at the press conference, Fury referenced his 2015 victory over Usyk's fellow Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, which earned him the WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

"I already relieved one Ukrainian of all the belts, and now I'm going to take them all back," Fury said.

"Usyk's a champion, I'm a champion. It's going to be a fight for the ages."

Fury believes a victory over Usyk would cement his status as one of the all-time greats.

"He's a good boxer, slick. But I've seen people like him before, and when they fight the big man, they lose," he said.

"I believe we're both destined to be here. I'm destined to become the undisputed champion, and more than that, cement my legacy."

Usyk kept his cool amid Fury's insults, which included taking swipes at his opponent's height and his ear-ring.

"Yes I'm a little man. I'll speak in the ring," Usyk said.

Fury has held the WBC belt since he defeated Deontay Wilder in 2020 and has defended the title three times.

He stopped Dillian Whyte at Wembley in April 2022 and beat Derek Chisora at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium eight months later.

Usyk, who has won all 21 of his fights, has been the WBA, IBF and WBO title holder since defeating Anthony Joshua in 2021.

The Ukrainian has defended his titles twice, defeating Joshua by split decision in Saudi Arabia last year and knocking out Daniel Dubois in August.

Saudi Arabia has staged several leading boxing events in recent years, including Usyk's win over Anthony Joshua in 2022.

The Gulf State has been accused of using sport to improve its international reputation after widespread criticism for its human rights record.

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