Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk preview postponed undisputed heavyweight title fight

The undisputed heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk was scheduled for February 17 until a cut suffered by Fury while sparring forced its postponement until May.  

There has been significant interest in a fight between them since Usyk’s masterful victories over Anthony Joshua, but after the second postponement – after numerous rounds of talks that ended in frustration, a date of December 23 was previously agreed – Fury is confident that on May 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, an undisputed heavyweight champion will be declared.

“I didn’t think it wouldn’t happen, it’s been signed for months, so it was just a matter of when and where,” he told TNT Sports.

“For me, he [Usyk] was never in the equation. It was always me, [Deontay] Wilder and [Anthony] Joshua – obviously he beat Joshua and took Joshua’s position so here we are.” 

Usyk revealed that the WBC heavyweight champion has instead been in his sights for a long time.

“I’ve been training for this fight for a few years now, since he beat Wladimir [Klitschko]; he didn’t know about me back then because I wasn’t famous in the world of boxing,” the Ukrainian told the same broadcaster.

“But I have been preparing for Anthony Joshua and for him since the very beginning – since I started professional boxing.”

Fury seemingly joked that the former undisputed cruiserweight champion – the 37-year-old Usyk is two years older than Fury – was just another opponent and insisted that he wouldn’t be giving him special treatment.

“Just the same stuff [as usual],” he said. “I’ll bring in some southpaw sparring obviously and that’s it. If he’s better than me he’ll beat me; if I’m better than him I’ll beat him.

“I train four, five weeks for these fights. How much training does a man need? Three, four weeks of sparring, one week resting – done. We’ve been boxing all our lives, since little boys. I’m sure we’re not going to forget how to box.”

The Ukrainian has been taunted and mocked for his appearance by Fury in the build-up to their highly-anticipated fight but laughed off suggestions that Fury has got under his skin.

“When [insults] start becoming too rude, touching on personal things, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do – our children watch us,” he explained.

“Actually, nothing really insults me. Nothing that Tyson Fury has said – nothing at all.”

They then showed how, if they are to be believed, how different they are when they were asked what motivated them to win. 

“We’re fighting for all the belts, undefeated, legacy; ton of money; what else is there to get motivated for?” Fury responded.

“My motivation is my family, my country,” said Usyk. “Ukrainian soldiers – this is my motivation but I have a second opportunity to take undisputed. It’s motivating.”

“We are the two biggest Christians in boxing,” said Fury. “He can train all he wants; I can train all I want, but whoever God wants to win this fight will win.

“More than anything, why I respect you more than all the other boxers is because of your faith – to see someone also a world champion who also has big faith in God is unbelievable.

“It’s been 24 years since we had an undisputed [heavyweight] champion in boxing. It’s our destiny now to go on and fight for the championship.

“Honestly to God, I don’t have any rivalry with Oleksandr. I don’t dislike him – he’s a likeable character.

“It’s unfortunate for Oleksandr that he has got to fight Tyson Fury in my era, so that’s it. I’ve got him to beat and then I’ve wiped everyone out.”

“I don’t need any hatred because I give 300 per cent for my job,” Usyk responded. “I love what I do and I think hatred causes hatred.”

Despite previously speaking of his desire to in future fight Joshua, Fury then said: “You can’t mention Joshua on the same table; he [Usyk]’s beat Joshua twice. I beat Wilder twice – now whoever wins out of me and him [Usyk], which is going to be me, is king of the castle.”

They each finished their encounter with a prediction.

“I’m a very good boxer but I don’t really use it anymore, when I boxed Klitschko [in 2015] I outboxed him – beautiful,” he said. “I’ll do the same to him if I want or I’ll just go on the front foot and get stuck into him.”

“There will be a battle and after 12 rounds when the winner is announced Ukraine and the whole world will celebrate,” Usyk said.