By Declan Warrington
Oleksandr Usyk and his promoter Alex Krassyuk have responded to suggestions of a postponement of his fight with Tyson Fury by insisting that they expect the date of December 23 to be honoured.
The combination of how unexpectedly difficult Fury found Saturday’s fight with the mixed martial artist Francis Ngannou, on the occasion of Ngannou’s professional debut, and the disappointing condition in which Fury arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has most recently led to Fury’s promoter Frank Warren saying that Fury-Usyk will instead take place in 2024.
With Usyk and Krassyuk in attendance Fury was knocked down in the third round before being awarded a controversial split decision via scores of 96-93, 95-94 and 94-95. Warren is adamant that Fury remains committed to what – particularly on the evidence provided by Ngannou – could prove the most difficult date of his career and that he therefore “needs protecting him from himself” and a period of rest before a more effective training camp.
Usyk, who had already started preparing for December 23 and his most difficult opponent in Spain, has regardless reminded Fury of the contract he signed to fight him – and Krassyuk that Fury risks “legal consequences” if he does not.
“It has to take place on the 23rd of December, in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia,” the Ukrainian, at 36 narrowly older than his 35-year-old rival, said. “We have it in contract – on paper.
“It did disturb me [watching Fury-Ngannou unfold]. It did disturb me – I was worried a lot. [But] I would give a maximum of three rounds to Ngannou.
“Frank Warren used to talk a lot of things, blaming me for something that never happened. And, you know what? We have a contract – and the contract says that the fight has to take place on the 23rd of December, no matter what.”
It was announced after confirmation of Fury-Ngannou that Fury had also since signed to fight Usyk in what remains the most significant fight that can be made. His doing so followed lengthy periods of speculation and frustration stemming from their previous negotiations coming to little, and Krassyuk – who scored him the winner over Ngannou by a point – said: “In his mind he can [delay the fight], but legally he’s obliged to fight Oleksandr on the 23rd. He will suffer legal consequences.
“If we are responsible – by ‘we’ I mean our team and Fury’s team – if we are responsible people and we keep our word, and we keep what we have signed on paper, we have to comply with what is on paper. The world wants to see the undisputed heavyweight championship, not just the clash between Tyson and Usyk. They want to see the fight between Tyson and Usyk for the undisputed [title]. That’s what has to happen on the 23rd.
“If you listen to what my colleague Frank Warren started to say in the media, and immediately in the ring, they are thinking of extending the time for Tyson. But this fight was made between the fighters, not between the promoters.
“This fight was made by Tyson’s manager and Usyk’s manager, where they met first in New York, and then we all came to London and agreed on the conditions. Egis Klimas is Oleksandr Usyk’s manager, and Spencer Brown is Tyson Fury’s manager. So it was Tyson’s decision, and he gave his consent for the 23rd, because he wanted to fight as frequently as possible.
“Though we respect Fury as the [WBC] champ, we can’t really claim he’s a man of his word, according to what we had in the past. The good thing is that we have it on paper. Of course he can use any kind of excuse – that he got injured; he got cut; he got tired, or whatever – but this is the point where the commitment has to be executed.”