Bob Arum has cast doubt on Tyson Fury’s status as favourite for his undisputed heavyweight title fight with Oleksandr Usyk.
Fury and Usyk are to finally fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 17.
They had been scheduled to do so on December 23 — until the 35-year-old Fury performed so disappointingly when outpointing Francis Ngannou in a 10-round non-title fight that those plans were abandoned.
Usyk, 36, had been among those in Riyadh watching on in shock when Fury was knocked down, and Arum – with Frank Warren Fury’s co-promoter – believes that the fight that Fury was once seen as a significant favourite for will be even closer than was Fury-Ngannou.
“I don’t know if he’ll be a favourite after his last fight,” he told ProBox TV. “That remains to be seen.
“I’ll be really curious of how the odds open on that fight. A lot of people are now talking that Usyk should be the favourite, so I don’t know. That’s a really good fight, Fury and Usyk,
“It’s a really close fight, and it’s like one of these 6-5, 7-5 [round-split] fights, either way. He was in no shape to fight December 23. He’ll have time to train well, and he knows Usyk is a really tough customer.”
Asked if he believed Fury would have learned from the lack of professionalism that almost cost him against Ngannou, Arum responded: “We’ll see. I hope so.
“When he got knocked down I was stunned, but I thought he won seven out of the 10 rounds, and I was sitting real close at ringside.
“I was in the dressing room after the fight, Frank Warren and myself, and [Fury] just thought he had a bad night, you know? I can understand, because there was no study that he could do on Ngannou like he can do about Usyk.
“SugarHill [Steward, Fury’s trainer] and the rest of the guys are probably pouring over Usyk’s fights; they have it all on tape. They had nothing like that with Ngannou, so I think they’ll be better prepared.”