LONDON — The fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk to unify all of the major heavyweight boxing titles will take place in Saudi Arabia´s capital, Riyadh, on Feb. 17, promoters announced.
The last fight to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion was in 1999, when Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield to win three major titles – the WBC, WBA and IBF belts. Lewis had to relinquish his WBA title the following year in a dispute over his next title defense.
This time, it´s for four belts. Fury (34-0-1) of England is the WBC champion and Usyk (21-0) of Ukraine holds the WBA, IBF and WBO belts, having previously been the undisputed champion at cruiserweight in 2018 and 2019.
Fury and Usyk were expected to meet on Dec. 23 but the fight was delayed after Fury´s disappointing performance in a split-decision victory over MMA star Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia last month.
“I am destined to cement my legacy as the No. 1 fighter in this era and to do that, I´ve got to beat this little man,” said Fury, who has previously referred to Usyk as a “middleweight.”
“That´s it. Simple as. He´s a tricky man, a good boxer, slick, all of that, but I´ve seen many people like him before. When they fight the big men, they struggle and he´s going to struggle on Feb. 17. He will lose, for sure,” Fury added according to AP.
Usyk is coming off a defense against Daniel Dubois in Poland. The Ukrainian has beaten British opponents in all of his last four fights, including when he won his heavyweight titles from Anthony Joshua in 2021 and defended them in a rematch in Saudi Arabia the following year.
“I have no goal,” Usyk said. “Only the way. And my way is ´The Undisputed.´ That is why this was the only fight for me. When that bell rings, I will bring the fire.
Meanwhile, Former world heavyweight champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua will fight separate opponents on the same bill at a mega-show in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 23, promoters said according to Reuters.
Britain’s Joshua, the former WBA, IBF and WBO champion, will take on Sweden’s Otto Wallin while American Wilder, the former WBC champion, faces New Zealand’s Joseph Parker at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena.
Parker is also a former WBO champion.
Joshua and Wilder could fight each other next year if both win in Riyadh.
The Dec. 23 show will also feature two world title clashes, with WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol scheduled to fight Britain’s Lyndon Arthur while Australian WBC cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia takes on Britain’s Ellis Zorro.
British heavyweight Daniel Dubois, who lost to WBA, IBF and WBO champion Usyk in Poland in August, will be back in the ring to fight undefeated American Jarrell Miller.
Joshua told reporters last month that a fight between him and Wilder could be staged on the undercard of the Usyk v Fury clash.
Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn said the Riyadh show, led by Queensberry Promotions’ Frank Warren, had come together in record time thanks to the Saudi authorities.
“This is the fastest I’ve ever seen a fight card come together,” Hearn told a London news conference.
“We’re talking about conversations that started 10 days ago, max, and that wasn’t even necessarily AJ (Joshua) at the time. That was Dmitry Bivol, that was Jai Opetaia and then it went into AJ.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. I think the speed of it actually benefited everybody because no-one really had time to fall out.”