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BOXING

Fury gives in to fan pressure and signs for Usyk bout

Eighteen months after it should have been in the bag, Tyson Fury has given in to the demands of the boxing fans and signed for Usyk bout

Update:
Eighteen months after it should have been in the bag, Tyson Fury has given in to the demands of the boxing fans and signed for Usyk bout
ANDREW COULDRIDGEAction Images via Reuters

It never should have taken this long. Tyson Fury is the WBC heavyweight world champ. He has taken down Vladimir Klitschko when nobody thought he could. He defeated Deontay Wilder when nobody thought he would. Twice.

Oleksandr Usyk is the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champ. He took them off Anthony Joshua and defended them against the ex-champ before knocking out Daniel Dubois.

This is the biggest fight that boxing can conceivably muster. It should have been a done deal long ago.

Usyk offered Fury a 30/70 purse split in the Gypsy King’s favor last year, and when it wasn’t accepted, the boxing public rounded on Fury. By deciding to take a bout with MMA star, but novice boxer, Francis Ngannou on October 28 instead, it became harder and harder to shake off accusations that he was ducking the Ukrainian.

But now, finally, after all of that posturing, the deal has been done. The two biggest names in heavyweight boxing will meet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the undisputed world heavyweight title. All the belts are on the line.

Queensbury promoter Frank Warren says that he is delighted by the signing. “This is the biggest fight that could possibly be made in our sport.

Co-promoter Bob Aurm concurs. “Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are the two greatest heavyweights of their generation, and I can’t wait to see what happens when they step into the ring in Riyadh. They are special talents worthy of competing for the greatest prize in sports.”

It may be just a coincidence, but with this sudden about-face coming just a few weeks after Fury was publicly called out by Carl Froch for not having a boxing CV worthy of Hall of Fame status, as well as doing damage to the sport and his own legacy, there may be an element of the Gypsy King’s pride being stung.

So far, there is no date set, but both sides say that they are aiming for December 23. This will be a hard date to attain, coming less than eight weeks after Fury’s Ngannou bout, but should they pull it off, it will put boxing fans into another quandary. The long-awaited bout between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn will be that same date, dividing potential audience. With Fury’s love of the British boxing public’s attention, this is something that he will not be keen on.

With only eight weeks to prepare for what will be the biggest fight of his career, my bet is that the December 23 date will soon be set aside. A more reasonable time will be mid January in the new year. But you never know. This is heavyweight boxing and crazy things can happen.