Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk had to be separated by security after the “Gypsy King” vowed to knock the Ukrainian out when they clash with the undisputed heavyweight title on the line in Saudi Arabia in February. The fighters came face to face on Thursday to announce their long-awaited showdown in the Middle East, with Fury telling Usyk he will be “smashed to pieces”.
WBC champion Fury (34-0-1) will face three-belt champion Usyk (21-0) in Riyadh on February 17, with the fight finally agreed after negotiations for a 2022 showdown broke down. But a money-spinning deal has been done with the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, and Fury was brimming with confidence at Thursday’s launch press conference in London.
He said: “I already received one Ukrainian (Wladimir Klitschko) of all the belts, and I’m going to relieve that idiot of the belts I gave him. I’m going to bust him, sausage, ugly little man, rabbit. You know what’s coming, you’re getting smashed to pieces, sausage. You’re fighting the best British heavyweight there has ever been, the f****** Dauntless in these waters. You beat the rest of them, but you ain’t beating Tyson Fury.
“You are getting knocked out, mother-f*****. You can’t beat me, you can never beat me. When you sleep at night, ugly man, you’re going to think of me for the next eight weeks. Think of me because I’m going to punch your face in.”
Fury then took a more serious tone. He said: “This is the most important one. We are both undefeated, I’m a champion and he’s a champion, it’s going to be a fight for the ages. I am destined to become the undisputed champion and I am destined to cement my legacy as the number-one fighter of its era. To do that, I’ve got to beat this man. Easier said than done, he’s a tricky man, slick, a good boxer. But I’ve seen many people like him before and when they fight the big men, they struggle and he’s going to struggle on February 17. He will lose and I will break him, for sure.”
Unlike his opponent, Usyk kept the talking to a minimum. He likened the matchup to the bible passage of David vs Goliath, adding: “When the lord gives me Tyson in my hands, I will do my job.”
Fury comes into the fight off the back of a controversial victory in a crossover bout with MMA superstar Francis Ngannou. Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou, who had never competed in a sanctioned boxing contest, put Fury on the canvas and many viewers believed the Cameroonian deserved to get the nod on the judges’ scorecards, but the “Gypsy King” won via split decision.
The wear and tear Fury incurred in the fight, including a cut above the eye, forced a delay to the showdown with Usyk. The fight was pencilled in for December 23, but it has been booked for February instead to ensure both fighters are in prime shape.
The fight continues a huge push from Saudi Arabia to become the home of boxing’s biggest events. After hosting Fury vs Ngannou, the Kingdom will host “Day of Reckoning” on December 23, with former two-time heavyweight king Anthony Joshua facing Sweden’s Otto Wallin and big-punching American Deontay Wilder taking on New Zealand’s Joseph Parker.
Usyk holds the WBA, WBO and IBF straps after winning successive fights over Joshua, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of his generation after winning the undisputed cruiserweight title and an Olympic gold medal. But it is Fury who has opened up as the early favourite with the bookmakers, despite a lacklustre showing against Ngannou in Riyadh last month.
“It doesn’t get any better than this, two great fighters who are undefeated,” Fury’s promoter Frank Warren said. “You are going to see a magnificent fight, it will be magnificent because they are magnificent boxers. The styles will make it a great fight and I’m sure everybody around the world is going to tune in to see history made. For the first time this century, we will have a unified champion.”
Usyk’s manager Alex Krasssyuk added: “We have been chasing this fight for so long and finally it’s happening and I can hardly believe (it). Let the best man win and let the belts come back home to Ukraine.”