Turki Alalshikh won’t entertain any notion that casts doubt on the legitimacy of Tyson Fury’s latest gash.
The Saudi power broker was quick to dispel such theories after it was announced that the undisputed heavyweight championship between Fury, the WBC titlist, and Oleksandr Usyk, the WBO, WBA, IBF, IBO champion, will not be happening on Feb. 17 in Riyadh, Saudi, Arabia, as scheduled. On Friday it was revealed that Fury had suffered a gruesome cut above his right eye during sparring.
Queensberry, the British promoter of Fury, sent out a press release accompanied by an image of the injury. Fury had suffered a similar injury in the same area several years ago during his bout with Otto Wallin. Soon thereafter a grainy video of the alleged sparring session that caused the injury started circulating on social media.
Many were quick to accuse Fury of having intentionally wrought the injury on himself, citing his history of pulling out of big fights, most notably the planned rematch between him and Wladimir Klitschko.
But during an interview on The MMA Hour, Alalshikh, who heads the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia, the body responsible for organizing Riyadh Season, tried to defuse any speculation about the nature of Fury’s injury, while revealing that the new date for the fight is May 18. Alalshikh said if he had any inkling that Fury was going to pull out of the fight against Usyk, he would not have greenlit the matchup to begin with. Alalshikh, who has mentioned he is ill, said he moved an important medical appointment in New York City to March to ensure that the fight happened.
“I have something important [to say],”Alalshikh said. “This fight, I wanted it to happen. I delayed my health issues [and travel] to New York hospitals to the beginning of March for this fight. I need to go to the hospitals. It’s my health.”
Alalshikh noted some precedent as it relates to the postponement of a high-profile heavyweight fight. The 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali was delayed by a month after Foreman suffered a cut over his right eye during sparring.
“If I think Tyson is scared for this fight I would not waste my time,” Alalshikh said. “The cut happened. It happened before with [George] Foreman and Muhammad Ali (in 1974).”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.