IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and WBC champ Tyson Fury were supposed to fight on December 23rd, but that seems to be the case no longer. A new date is now being rumored as Mike Coppinger of ESPN reported this evening that February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is the new targeted date.
Fury had initially announced a showdown with Usyk on December 23, only for a tougher-than-expected fight with Francis Ngannou, which is pushing back the fight.
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship in February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN. Fury-Usyk was planned for Dec. 23 before Fury struggled in a far tougher-than-expected win over Francis Ngannou. Fury suffered two cuts," stated Coppinger on his social media account.
The news doesn't shock many as Frank Warren, one of Fury's promoters, stated after the fight essentially the same sentiment. The bigger issue is Fury hasn't been much of an active fighter. So it makes one wonder if a somewhat quick turnaround of four months after a fight in which he left with a black eye might be a tad optimistic.
As for Fury-Usyk, the bout has a rematch clause in the contract, meaning that more than likely we will see two fights with Fury and Usyk over the next year or two. As the underlying hope is that the division gets active again, as Deontay Wilder waited out 2023, Anthony Joshua has fought twice, but in rather unassuming bouts.
While people can guess about what happened all they want with Fury and Ngannou the fight played out how it did and now it appears that the heavyweight champion will have the bout pushed back as he will have to train through the holidays for that.
The heavyweight division is waiting for great match-ups to be made as contenders like Frank Sanchez and Jared Anderson wait in the wings, but with no forward movement at the top of the division it seems to be a trickle-down effect of inactivity that has hurt the division and the sport. The sport is healthiest when the heavyweight division is cooking - and often that means being active with great exciting fights. With the two most acclaimed modern heavyweights facing each other next year it seems maybe that can set the trend for the division in the new year.