From Tyson Fury’s co-promoter’s perspective, they had little choice but to announce that Fury has signed a contract to finally fight Oleksandr Usyk before he faces Francis Ngannou on Saturday night.
If organizers of their heavyweight title unification fight didn’t reveal September 29 that Fury and Usyk reached an agreement, Frank Warren is certain word would’ve leaked to the media because of the champions’ obligations to notify the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO of their contractual commitments to face each other. England’s Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) holds the WBC crown and Ukraine’s Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) owns the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts.
The public perception is that announcing his historic showdown with Usyk has placed unnecessary additional pressure on Fury, even though the 6-foot-9 Brit is listed as a 13-1 favorite to defeat Cameroon’s Ngannou in their 10-round, non-title fight. It was unavoidable according to Warren, whose company, Queensberry Promotions, represents Fury along with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
“The reason it’s been announced,” Warren explained to TNT Sports Boxing recently, “was because the contracts had to be lodged with the governing bodies, especially the IBF, before they – because they may have announced that [Filip] Hrgovic was going to fight [Usyk], was going to order that fight between him and Usyk. So, we had to get our contracts in because under their regulations they allow for unification fights. They take priority [over mandatory defenses].
“And we knew that once we put those contracts in that it would leak and somebody else would be saying it’s on. So, we had to take the bull by the horns. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t like to have said it was signed. I would’ve liked to have done that after the fight [with Ngannou], provided Tyson does the business. That’s how we’d like to have done it.”
Usyk is expected to sit ringside for Fury-Ngannou, which will headline pay-per-view shows in the United States ($79.99) and the United Kingdom (£21.95). Assuming the heavily favored Fury emerges victorious – and without any cuts or other injuries – the 35-year-old Manchester native could square off versus Usyk as soon as December 23.
“Well, look, let’s hope it – I’m hoping from our perspective, Tyson’s perspective, it goes how we want it to go,” Warren said. “Obviously, the other guy’s gonna have a different view of that. You know, with Ngannou, he’s got nothing to lose. He’s got everything to gain here. This guy’s gonna come in and he’s gonna be throwing those bombs, and trying to land ‘em. He’s got everything to gain, nothing to lose. And Tyson’s got more pressure on him now, now that people know this fight’s signed, now they know it’s been signed.”
Warren still doesn’t expect Fury to adjust his strategy against Ngannou because he is committed to a huge fight with Usyk next. Fury has promised that he’ll fight on his front foot and try to knock out Ngannou, just as he did against Deontay Wilder in their second and third fights, which he won by technical knockout and knockout, respectively.
“Tyson will do what he’s gonna do,” Warren said. “No one’s gonna tell him – he’s no fool. You know, he’s a student of boxing. He knows what he has to do, and he’ll do whatever. You could sit down and talk about it all day long, discuss the tactics. Once that bell goes, it’ll be Tyson Fury’s fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.