By Declan Taylor


TYSON FURY has stopped short of cancelling Christmas altogether but did concede that his normal ‘15-pint’ session might have to be tempered with the undisputed fight with Oleksandr Usyk looming.

Fury and Usyk were supposed to fight on December 23 until debutant Francis Ngannou put a knife through those plans with his spirited performance in Riyadh last month.

It means the top two in the division will now fight back in Saudi on February 17 which has meant a reshuffle for Fury’s Christmas plans.

“It wasn’t my ideal date,” Fury said of February 17. “I wanted the 23rd because then I could have had a good Christmas and now I am going to have a shit Christmas.

“I can’t go and get 4st heavier now, like I would like to. This date will keep me in shape and give me something to think about. It’s only a few weeks after so not too bad.

“I will still have a proper Christmas day with the family, it’s not that serious that I have to cancel Christmas is it?

“Me and Joe Parker usually go to the boozer next door, while the dinner is getting made, and have 15 pints but this time he can do it and I can’t because he will be celebrating his win on the 23rd and I will still be in camp.”

Parker is one of the fighters who may feel like all his Christmases came at once when Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority decided to press ahead with a major event on December 23 in the absence of Fury-Usyk.

He was matched with Deontay Wilder in the co-main event while Anthony Joshua and Otto Wallin will fight in the other headliner.

“I have made them all millionaires but everyone can look after themselves,” Fury added. “I just wish them good luck and good health and a good Christmas present.

“But what a Christmas present they have got now, they all need to thank Saudi boxing because it has been on a nose dive. Without me this wouldn’t be possible. I have introduced Saudi Arabia and boxing to each other.

“But I am not here for pats on the back and all that, I have my own fight in February.”

That fight was officially confirmed on Thursday night at a press conference at the same Outernet venue on Tottenham Court Road where Fury’s showdown with Ngannou was initially announced.

Fury has been famously denigrating Usyk since the Ukrainians rise from unified cruiserweight champion to heavyweight maverick. The Morecambe resident has dismissed the 36-year-old as a middleweight who simply lacks the requisite physical attributes to win a fight with a 6ft 9in man. He has also labelled him a sausage and an ugly bog-eyed rabbit cat.

But, away from the glare of the cameras, there were no insults on Wednesday as Fury sat down to discuss his next opponent.

“As a fighter he’s done everything that can be done, so you have to respect him,” Fury said.

“He’s come from Ukraine, I don’t from what sort of background but probably a poor one. He’s done fantastic, just like Wilder, Joshua, Parker, myself. We’ve all done fantastic, we are all multimillionaires who have changed our stars for the better.

“You have to respect him and admire him. I don’t really know him as a man because I’ve never been out with him for a beer or socialised.  But from what I’ve seen he’s a God-fearing family man.”

However, once the two teams sat down at the top table, with Usyk flanked by Egis Klimas and Alex Krassyuk, Fury reverted to type.

“You lot are all dossers and he’s getting knocked out,” Fury said, peering down the table.

“I’m gonna bust him… sausage. Ugly little man rabbit. You know what’s coming, you’re getting smashed, sausage. His bollocks have shrivelled up now, you little pussy. You’re getting knocked out motherfucker. And your two promoters will be working for me as bag carriers.”

It’s all part of the package when it comes to Fury. The GEA Chairman Turki Al-Alshikh, who was personally thanked by Frank Warren, watched down from the mezzanine floor of the venue.

“Before I kick off anymore I want to say thank you for Turki Al-Alshikh for putting it on. All these fights seemed impossible to make but Turki seems to have made them all in five minutes.”

Usyk, verbally overpowered by Fury, spoke only occasionally. “I want to tell you the story of David and Goliath,” he said. “When the lord gives me Tyson in my hands I will do my job.”

“Impossible,” Tyson retorted. “The lord would never deliver me to you, son. Never. Especially a man wearing earrings. Believe that. When you go to sleep at night you’re going to think of me. Think of me, because I’m going to punch your face in.

“Is this my hardest fight? Nowhere near, easy fight. He’s a slick southpaw boxer, not the biuggest puncher in the world or the strongest man in the world. I can outbox him or get on the front foot and slaughter him. There is more than one way for me to skin this cat.”

Then, to add a slightly bizarre twist to the evening, Sylvestre Stallone appeared from nowhere to take part in the latest Fury-Usyk photo opportunity alongside Turki Al-Alshikh, who raised both his fists.

The most significant fight of the Saudi era is 13 weeks away.