Tyson Fury took a brief break from his usual hurl of press conference insults to qualify his confidence to become the sport’s next undisputed champion.
Oleksandr Usyk sat on the other end of the dais and smiled as he listened to his future rival during their kickoff presser Thursday evening at OVO Arena Wembley Arena in London. The two will meet on February 17 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The winner will be crowned the division’s first undisputed champion of the 21st century, which Fury sees as a foregone conclusion.
“We’re both destined to be here in this right. There’s only one winner. I’m destined to become undisputed champion,” the unbeaten Brit emphatically stated. “More important than that, I’m destined to cement my legacy as the number one heavyweight of this era.
“To get there, all I’ve got to do is beat this little man. That’s it. Simple as that.”
Manchester’s Fury (34-0-1, 24KOs) is a two-time and reigning lineal heavyweight champion who will defend his physical WBC title for the fourth time.
Ukraine’s Usyk (21-0, 14KOs)—a former undisputed cruiserweight king—risks his unified WBA, IBF and WBO titles for the third time. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and two-division champ aims to join Evander Holyfield as just the second fighter in history to fully unify both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions.
Back-to-back victories over Anthony Joshua (26-3, 23KOs) and a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Dubois this past August 26 is proof enough that Usyk has long ago acclimated to the heavyweight division. Still, the high-ranking pound-for-pound entrant gives away six inches in height and seven in reach to the 6’9” Fury, a nimble and complete boxer-puncher in his own right.
“I know it’s easier said than done,” Fury said of the task at hand. “Oleksandr is a good boxer, slick and all of that. But listen, I’ve seen many, many people like him before. When they face the big man, they struggle. He is going to struggle on February 17 and he will lose. I will break him, for sure.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox