Every time we get within touching distance of a heavyweight undisputed fight, something gets in the way.
Whether it’s failed negotiations between two British superstars, or an unexpected arbitration case that forces a brilliant but unwanted trilogy, the fight we’ve all been waiting for continues to elude us.
But now, after Tyson Fury – as we all knew he would – easily dismiss his old buddy Derek Chisora, the coast is finally clear for the heavyweight top dog to take on Oleksandr Usyk in a historic showdown.
Tyson Fury (left) has revealed talks are underway to stage his fight against Oleksandr Usyk (right) in Saudi Arabia
Fury assaulted an unlucky Derek Chisora (left) on Saturday to keep his WBC heavyweight belt
Since Lennox Lewis in 1999, the heavyweight division hasn’t had an undisputed champion, a man who stands above the rest as the undisputed, undeniable No. 1. But negotiations are now underway to make that happen, with talks for Fury vs Usyk in Saudi Arabia to perform. in the making next year.
Fury revealed after his victory over Chisora that he will need surgery on his elbow, which will take “about six to eight weeks” to heal, but after that it’s time to go. Let’s start, as the gypsy king said on Saturday.
So there it is. Simple, right? If only – boxing has never been easier. There is still the issue of contract negotiations to discuss. Will it be a 50-50 split? Will it be 60-40 for the winner in the inevitable rematch? What TV channel is it on? Are there obligations that stand in the way? Do both men really want the fight?
These are the questions that still need to be answered. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the recent botched negotiations between Joshua and Fury, it’s that securing a fight of this magnitude takes time. Don’t put in ridiculous deadlines this time, Tyson, please.
Fury and Usyk came face to face at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night
Fury were in negotiations to fight Anthony Joshua (left) for all belts, but they fell through
Gypsy King, 34, wants to add Usyk’s WBA, WBO and IBF belts to his WBC belt
But let’s start with what we do know. Unlike the proposed fight between Joshua and Fury, which was a contractual nightmare in so many ways, we already know which TV channel it would be on: BT Sport Box Office in the UK and ESPN in the States.
Fury has been with Frank Warren and BT Sport since making his highly anticipated comeback against Sefer Seferi in 2018, with his last seven fights – dating back to his first scrap against Deontay Wilder in 2018 – on BT Sport Box Office.
Usyk, meanwhile, by defeating Joshua in their competitive rematch in August, is no longer tied to a specific broadcaster. Not Sky, not DAZN, not anyone. So that’s the problem of TV sorted.
When asked if both men want the fight, it now seems pretty clear. Usyk was ringside on Saturday night for a reason, and it wasn’t to see the boring fling between Yvan Mendy and Denys Berinchyk on the undercard. Daniel Dubois’ roller coaster victory over Kevin Leera was unexpectedly thrilling, mind you.
But that’s aside. The thing is, Usyk was at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to get in the ring after the fight with Fury and get the (hopefully) approaching opponents on the world stage. Joe Joyce even managed to get involved.
Fury threw a barrage of insults at Usyk as the rivals clashed in north London
Usyk was totally disinterested when he hilariously took a phone call during their exchange
Fury typically hurled a barrage of swear words at Usyk: ‘Midget’, ‘rabbit’, b****, p****, ‘gappy teeth’, ‘ugly little man’ – they were all equally predictable. And all of them had absolutely no influence on Usyk, who smiled away, even took a call during the exchange.
On his post-fight presser, Fury was more coherent. “Let’s talk about Usyk, because now we can,” he said. “Everyone used to want to ask about Usyk if I had to beat Chisora. I’m ready; I’m willing to beat Usyk next. Whether in Saudi Arabia or here in the UK.’
Fury’s promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum have both insisted the fight be sealed in the coming weeks, while both Usyk and his promoter Alex Krassyuk have made it more than clear that they want the Briton next.
So that’s the question of whether both men want the fight answered. Yes, Fury could insist tomorrow that he’s retired again, or that he’ll only fight for free, or that he’ll only fight for £500m, but I think by now we’ve all learned to take statements like that with a grain of salt , to say the least.
The final hurdle, aside from the finer details in the contract, which shouldn’t be a problem, is whether any mandatory challengers can get in the way. And here it gets a little more complicated.
We already know the WBC belt won’t be a problem; Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr. have been ordered to fight, with the winner being obligated. Daniel Dubois, meanwhile, is the (regular) WBA champion and mandatory challenger, but since he’s with Warren, he certainly wouldn’t get in the way.
The only remaining stumbling block could be Usyk’s (left) IBF belt that could prevent the uncontested fight
The IBF has ordered Usyk to face mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in his next fight
The only possible problem is the IBF belt – a belt taken from Fury in 2015, less than two weeks after his win against Wladimir Klitschko. Fury was assigned to fight mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov, but instead agreed to fight Klitschko again, which ultimately never happened.
Now the IBF has ordered Usyk to next fight mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic, with his co-promoter Kalle Sauerland revealing they have written to the governing body demanding an immediate bid for the bout.
Honestly, especially after Hrgovic’s woeful performance in his win over Zhilei Zhang in August, no one wants to see that fight. So are Warren, Arum and Krassyuk, all of whom insist the IBF belt won’t be a problem.
“At this stage, I can expect it won’t affect the undisputed in any way,” Krassyuk said. Sky Sports in November. “We expect his next fight to be for the undisputed, so most likely it will take place in the Middle East,” Krassyuk added.
Warren – and his son, George – have also both insisted that the IBF belt will not be an issue. Frank, talk to iFL TV on Saturday night, said, “First of all, if you look at the rotation system, the next one to go is the WBA anyway.
“Why would anyone want to stop that fight? Why? It’s just idiotic. Let’s turn this on. We have the opportunity to do this, and we want to do it, both sides want to do it.’
Fury’s team, including Bob Arum (center) and Frank Warren (right), insist the IBF belt won’t be a problem
George Warren, meanwhile, insisted that they have spoken “quite a lot” with the IBF and that they are confident that all sides are on the same wavelength when it comes to the uncontested fight.
Fury has typically insisted he won’t be fighting for the IBF title if he faced Usyk, insisting they “robbed” him – but, as we discussed earlier, what he says and what he does are two completely different things.
More will come out about the IBF situation, of course, but the band would lose respect worldwide if it prevented an uncontested fight between Usyk and Hrgovic, when both sides are confident it won’t be a problem.
However, should that not be the case, there is a backup plan, which is that Fury and the WBO number 1 Joyce go head to head instead, with the fight taking place at Wembley Stadium.
So it seems that the IBF belt is the only problem left. Both men want the fight, there are no TV conflicts to overcome, and both sides are adamant not even the IBF band will stop the undisputed fight.
Roll on 2023, then.