Tyson Fury narrowly missed out being on the wrong end of one the biggest sporting upsets in history.
The current WBC heavyweight world champion scrapped through against MMA superstar and boxing debutant Francis Ngannou with a split-decision win last weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Fury received the fright of his life when Ngannou floored the undefeated Englishman in the third round.
Sat ringside to watch the bizarre events unfold was IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight title holder Oleksandr Usyk and his promoter Alexander Krassyuk with the intention of getting the show on the road for a heavyweight unification title fight on December 23.
“I’ll be fair with you.” Krassyuk said in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “When Fury finished the fight and we saw his face, it was quite obvious he would not be able to fight on December 23. Even if he states ‘okay I’m ready to go,’ his promoters and advisors would never let him go through with it. I would probably do the same if I were in their shoes. So, it’s normal. You just never know what is going to happen in a fight. Sometimes you have a plan, and sometimes you have to coordinate your plan to the circumstances.
“We had already started training camp, and Usyk was starting to train. But what can I say, it happened, there is no chance where we can change it. We don’t need to get nervous, we need to accept what the lord gives us. We’ve decided to move it forward to a later date, and hopefully next week we are going to make an announcement.”
Many entities surround the much sought after heavyweight showdown. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted the lavishly produced Fury-Ngannou bout titled Battle of The Baddest. The country has taken a keen interest in sport as it makes radical changes in its culture, using boxing as one of many tools to achieve such a task.
“This is normal stuff in boxing, it happens” Krassyuk answered as to whether the Saudi investors are at all dismayed by the situation. “There are a lot of fights that have took a long long long time to take place, some of the really big fights. We are warming up, you know. The extra publicity we will give this fight is better for everyone. Whenever the two guys get in the ring, there will have been a huge momentum where it will eventually culminate.
“Everything works well. Everyone wants to see it for the undisputed title, everyone is on board including all the sanctioning bodies. Probably some of the players in boxing would like to put some obstacles in the way, but not this time.”
The odds have leaned a little over to Usyk since Fury faced Ngannou. The undisputed matchup already had many guessing before the crossover bout last weekend.
“I was a little stressed to be honest with you.” Krassyuk laughed to himself as he relived the night in Riyadh. “Well, I suppose you have got used to seeing Tyson on the floor by now. He’s a survivalist, it doesn’t mean he’s got a good chin but he has a good recovery system inside his head. But yeah, it was really stressful to see him go down because after a fighter is down he has a high chance to lose. Thank God he recovered and came back and won the fight, at least according to my scores and Usyk’s scores, and many people I spoke with who I trust in boxing. Everyone says the same, that he won. However, it was not a very convincing victory at all. Whatever happens, happens for a reason.
“With all respect to people who have changed their minds about Fury, we have not. We have the same opinion as we had long before the fight with Ngannou. Usyk has to be victorious in this fight. He has always been the favourite for us because people have always underestimated his skills and his size, they think it might matter a lot. But you know what? Couple of days ago I was browsing YouTube and I saw some old Mike Tyson fights, he was 180 centimeters in height! But he was knocking out guys over two meters tall. It just means other things matter than size and height in boxing. I will say this though, and again disagree with people who have changed their minds. We have seen Fury in many fights, this fight was an exception, we shouldn’t rule out that this was an exception. How can we make a conclusion about one fight that is exceptional compared to all the fights that he had before. We are not changing anything in our preparation even though we saw him quite weak in his past fight. Usyk will be in the best possible shape for Tyson Fury.”