Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk went nose-to-nose to announce their February 17 heavyweight unification fight in London today.
They will meet in Saudi Arabia and were joined on stage by Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone, the real Rocky, and an inspired Usyk, who took a selfie on stage with Sly, likened his fight with Fury to a modern-day David and Goliath.
Usyk, the former cruiserweight champion – often referred to as a middleweight by Fury – holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, Fury is the WBC champion, and they meet in the first bout to unify the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis did it in 1999.
Usyk was flanked at the presser by his team, Egis Klimas and Alex Krassyuk. Fury was with manager Spencer Brown and promoter Frank Warren.
Fury cut in several times, shouting insults at Usyk – calling him a rabbit, sausage and pussy, among other things – but Usyk did not bite and would not engage or indulge Fury with any name-calling.
The show is called Ring of Fire, and Krassyuk opened up by thanking Usyk for his friendship, hard work, faith and the journey they have been on together over the last 10 years.
“We have been chasing this fight for so long, I can hardly believe it is happening,” said Krassyuk. “I want to emphasise something very important for me, I would like to express my sincere respect for the man sitting next to me on my left [Usyk]. We are all here because of him.”
Frank Warren added: “This is a historic event. They’ve now got the biggest fight in the sport. For me, as a boxing fan, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s going to be exciting while the fight lasts.”
“I don’t think there’s anybody alive who can beat Tyson Fury,” Brown said. “He’s undefeated, he will remain undefeated, he’ll beat this one, the next one and then the next one.”
Klimas revealed the business discussions for the fight, and how plain-sailing they had ended up being.
“This is the easiest fight I ever made in my career,” said Klimas. “One day I got a call from Tyson’s friend Tim and he said Tyson wants this fight, I said Oleksandr wants this fight as well.”
So Klimas flew to New York to meet with Spencer Brown, went to a hotel and after one hour in a room together the fight was made.
Some of the exchanges took the following form…
TF: “I’m going to bust him, ugly little man, rabbit. You’re going to get smashed. He’s like a little pussy with an earring in. You fucking pussy.”
OU: “I more speak in the ring.”
TF: “You’re getting knocked out mother fucker, out cold, rabbit, sausage. Your promoters will be working for me, carrying my bags.”
OU: “Enough? You stop?”
TF: “I came here to pick a fight, I didn’t come here to play games. You ugly little man.”
OU: “David and Goliath – when the Lord gives me Tyson in my hands, I will make my job.
TF: “Impossible, the Lord would never deliver me to you.”
OU: “The Lord has nothing impossible.”
TF: “When you sleep at night you’re going to think of me ugly man.”
TF: “For me every time, it’s a lot of talk.”
Fury felt Usyk was fortunate to survive with his titles when nailed with a controversial shot by Daniel Dubois in August. Fury reckons the shot was legal, officials said it was a low blow.
“I don’t care what Tyson thinks of that,” said Usyk, 21-0 (14).
Fury, 34-0-1 (20), who was pushed over 10 rounds and dropped by Francis Ngannou in his last fight in October began to calm down before, the needle re-emerged with the head-to-head, with both jostling for dominances as foreheads seemed to rub.
“We’re not here to talk, it’s a boxing match,” said Fury. “It comes down to who is going to win the fight. He thinks he’s going to win, maybe, I know I’m going to win. There’s not much more to be said.”
Stallone exited stage left, Usyk will fly home to prepare, Tyson will head back to Morecambe.
On February 17, the on-off heavyweight clash the world wants, to see who is the No. 1 in the division, will finally happen. But until the first bell, the world will have to wait.