The undisputed heavyweight championship fight billed as the “Ring of Fire” went up in flames Friday when Tyson Fury suffered a cut over his right eye.
Fury’s fight against Oleksandr Usyk was supposed to take place on Feb. 17, but over a nearly 24-hour period, a new date was urgently announced for May 18, giving Fury just over three months to recover from the injury.
Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) shared the details of the incident Saturday in an interview on The MMA Hour that also featured Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs), Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas, and Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia.
"I arranged to spar 12 rounds with four different guys [on Friday]," Fury explained. "In round five I got an elbow in the eye, a split eye, and obviously I've been to the hospital and had 11 stitches. They have the medical reports, they have everything … Nothing much anybody can do about getting a cut in sparring, sh!t happens. I've never had one before, first time for everything."
Friday’s incident marked the second significant laceration Fury has suffered near his right eye. During his 2019 win against Otto Wallin, Fury suffered a deep cut near his right eye that required 47 stitches and plastic surgery.
Klimas had choice words for Fury on Friday, calling him a coward and alleging that the Brit deliberately caused the cut to back out of the fight.
During the group conversation on Saturday, Alalshikh said Fury immediately insisted for the fight to go on as planned for Feb. 17 before the new date was ultimately agreed on.
Fury then went off on Klimas.
"Why would I not want to fight for the biggest payday of my life? I put 10 weeks into a training camp. Why? Why would I not want to fight?” said Fury. “You're a rat piece of sh!t. You've never had a fight in your life and you're calling me a coward, you rat bastard … Egis, never call me a coward again. I've had 35 professional fights. I've been boxing for 18 years of my life. I've climbed off the canvas from the biggest punchers in history to win. Never a coward, never backed down from any man in my life ... you're all going to be finito. You're all going to be working for me as dossers, you ugly little bastard.”
Fury also addressed the pictures he shared of his physique on social media and reiterated that they were recent photos.
"I'm in fantastic shape. I've been training really hard on a great diet and was ready to rock and roll,” said Fury. "Obviously I was very disappointed. I've been in training camp for a long time. I've been away from my family in Saudi Arabia for five weeks already, training … It's not a blessing in disguise. I take God's will as it comes. I was in fantastic shape, ready to fight. I was 100% confident I was going to knock Usyk out. There was no doubt in my mind. I was 100% ready.”
Fury's cutman Jorge Capetillo said Friday that the WBC heavyweight champion would need 90 days for the cut to heal.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.