Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk a Go for Saudi Arabia: Date TBA


It is now official. Representatives of WBC and Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and WBO/WBA/IBF title-holder Oleksandr Usyk have come to terms. The Fury-Usyk fight will be staged at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on a date to be determined. (Speculation centers around Dec. 23.)

Fury vs Usyk is the latest addition to Riyadh Season, a months-long, state-sponsored, city-wide entertainment and sports festival that commences this year on Oct. 28 with the fight between Tyson Fury and MMA star Francis Ngannou serving as the centerpiece of the grand opening ceremony.

A point that will be central to the pre-fight hype is that more than three decades have passed since boxing had a unified heavyweight champion. The last man to be recognized as such was Lennox Lewis who unified the title in November of 1999 when he won a unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Lewis entered the contest sporting the WBC belt whereas Holyfield held the WBA and IBF diadems.

As noted in boxrec, the vacant IBO heavyweight title was also at stake, a fact acknowledged in most British pre- and post-fight reports, but largely omitted from stories in American papers. As for the WBO, which was born the same year as the Florida-based IBO and came to leapfrog past it in credibility, it was out of the loop. Their heavyweight champion was Vitali Klitschko who had won the belt from Herbie Hyde.

The Lewis-Holyfield fight in Las Vegas was a rematch. They had fought eight months earlier at Madison Square Garden. That fight was ruled a draw, a decision deemed so unjust to Lennox Lewis that it spawned a federal investigation.

The tentative Dec. 23 date for Fury-Usyk would be a quick turnaround for the Gypsy King but would give him two months to heal in the event that he emerges from his non-title fight with Ngannou with a facial cut or another issue requiring medical attention. As noted in a story in the London Mirror, the date of Dec. 23 has also been bandied about as the likely date for the resurrection of the aborted fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn. Something would have to give and it wouldn’t be Fury-Usyk.