The heavyweight showdown that boxing fans have long craved will finally take place when British fighter Tyson Fury meets Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed world crown in Saudi Arabia.
Fury’s promoter Frank Warren said on Friday afternoon that a deal for the bout has finally been agreed. However, the date of the contest, which will take place in Riyadh, has not yet been announced.
“This is the biggest fight that could possibly be made in our sport,” said Warren. “The heavyweights always spark the imagination of the fans, and I have no doubt this will be the biggest boxing event of the century.”
A long-awaited blockbuster unification fight between the two has failed to get over the line in the past, with a previous attempt to meet at London’s Wembley Stadium breaking down amid recriminations on both sides.
Whoever wins the newly agreed bout will become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era.
Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum said: “Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are the two greatest heavyweights of their generation, and I can’t wait to see what happens when they step into the ring in Riyadh. They are special talents worthy of competing for the greatest prize in sports.”
The showdown with Usyk is set to be Fury’s second bout in the Kingdom, with the 35-year-old due to fight former UFC world heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on Oct 28. The Gypsy King’s World Boxing Council belt will not be on the line.
Usyk, 36, will likely come into the fight with his unbeaten record intact having scored a knockout victory against Daniel Dubois in Poland last month. The Ukrainian put down Londoner Dubois in the ninth round to retain his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organisation belts.
Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority Turki Alalshikh said: “This is the fight that everyone has wanted to see for some time and now it is finally happening - the world’s two heavyweight champions going into the ring against one another. It is the biggest fight in boxing, the world will be watching, and we are so proud to be the hosts for this spectacle.”
Meanwhile, Fury’s manager Spencer Brown said: “I’m delighted Tyson has the chance to become the first Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion of the four-belt era and prove he is one of the greats of all time. First, though, Tyson will have the chance to prove he is The Baddest Man on The Planet on October 28th.
Analysis: at last boxing fans get the fight they want
Undefeated Briton Fury has reigned as the heavyweight division’s ‘lineal’ champion since dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, while Ukraine’s Usyk, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, moved up to the heavyweight ranks following a dominant run to the undisputed cruiserweight title.
In September 2021, Usyk upset Anthony Joshua to become the unified heavyweight world champion and then defeated Joshua by split decision in their rematch nearly one year later.
Usyk returned in August to stop Daniel Dubois in nine rounds and now hopes to join Evander Holyfield as the only undisputed cruiserweight champion to repeat the deed at heavyweight.
Fury’s comeback after personal troubles has been extraordinary. Following a controversial draw against Deontay WIlder in December 2018, Fury snatched Wilder’s WBC world title via seventh-round TKO in their February 2020 rematch.
Their trilogy concluded with the 2021 Fight of the Year, as Fury overcame a pair of knockdowns to stop Wilder in the 11th round.
Fury stayed busy in 2022 with stoppage victories over Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora and is getting set to fight MMA superstar Francis Ngannou on October 28 in Riyadh.
Boxing fans finally have the era-defining fight that the heavyweight division needed, between two great undefeated fighters in their prime. Fury will start as favourite, but the skillset of Usyk will test the Briton in what is arguably his toughest assignment to date.