February 27, 2024

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship in February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN.

Fury-Usyk was planned for Dec. 23 before Fury struggled in a tougher-than-expected bout with former UFC champion Francis Ngannou on Saturday in Riyadh. Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) was cut over the forehead and the left eye en route to a split-decision victory over Ngannou, who was making his pro boxing debut.

Fury, 35, was even dropped in Round 3, the seventh knockdown of his illustrious career.

Fury and Usyk signed contracts for their long-awaited battle for heavyweight supremacy weeks before “The Gyspy King” stepped through the ropes to fight Ngannou in a 10-round non-title bout.

After the decision was announced, Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) entered the ring to confront Fury and set up their showdown.

“23 of December, I’m ready to fight,” said Usyk, who stepped into the ring after the decision was rendered. “Let’s go now if you want,” said Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion. ” … He’s a smaller man than Francis, I always said Francis was a much more dangerous fight than Oleksandr.”

The day before the bout, Usyk posted on Instagram: “Francis, be careful with Tyson, I need him in the ring on Dec. 23.” But now, Usyk will have to wait two additional months to finally get his hands on Fury.

Fury and Usyk were closing in on a deal to meet this past April at London’s Wembley Stadium before talks collapsed at the 11th hour.

Usyk, 36, is an Olympic gold medalist and former undisputed cruiserweight champion. The Ukrainian holds the WBA, WBO and IBF titles, belts he won from Anthony Joshua in 2021. Usyk retained the titles in the rematch with another decision nod over Joshua last summer in Saudi Arabia.

Now that the fight vs. Fury will take place in 2024, it ensures Usyk will go another year with only one fight. The last time Usyk fought multiple times in one year: 2018, when he competed three times.

He last fought in August, when he scored a ninth-round KO of Daniel Dubois in Poland. Usyk is ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight and No. 3 pound-for-pound boxer. Fury entered the bout rated No. 1 at heavyweight and No. 6 pound-for-pound. England’s Fury fought twice last year, both TKO wins at soccer stadiums in London (in April vs. Dilian Whyte and December vs. Derek Chisora).

This is Fury’s second title reign. He beat another Ukrainian, Wladimir Klitschko, in 2015 for three heavyweight titles via decision in an upset. Fury never defended those titles and instead was out of the ring for two-and-a-half years due to depression and substance abuse. He was up to 400-plus pounds during that time.

After Fury returned from that hiatus, he established himself as one of boxing’s top stars with a classic heavyweight title trilogy with Deontay Wilder, whom he stopped twice after a draw in the first meeting. Fury’s third fight with Wilder was ESPN’s 2021 Fight of the Year and KO of the Year.

The Fury-Usyk deal contains a two-way rematch clause, virtually ensuring two consecutive fights between the pair for 10s of millions of dollars.

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