Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk confirm date and location for heavyweight unification fight

Tyson Fury has vowed to fight Oleksandr Usyk for the chance to become the undisputed king of heavyweight boxing as the Ukrainian confirmed their meeting on 23 December in Saudi Arabia.

Usyk was ringside for Fury’s unconvincing split-decision victory over ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on Saturday night.

MMA star Ngannou shockingly went the distance in his boxing debut, even knocking down reigning WBC heavyweight champion Fury at one point, but Fury remained undefeated. Two judges gave Fury the fight by scores of 96-93 and 95-94, and the other judge favoured Ngannou 95-94.

Fury’s championship belt was never on the line in this bout, though it counts as an official fight. Good thing for Fury, because Ngannou showed early in the scheduled 10-round fight that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Afterwards Usyk, who owns the other three global heavyweight belts, turned attention to their showdown, saying: “It’s a big fight. The whole world wants this fight. We’re back in this ring, 23 December, thank you very much, I go to sleep.”

Fury said: “It’s been going on a long time, let’s do the fight, over here, for all the belts, the undisputed title of the world. Listen, it’s not up to me, we’d go now. These guys will sort it out, it’ll be my next fight guaranteed.”

Fury’s promoter Frank Warren said: “I don’t think the date will be announced just yet. This fight is on. Both fighters want it. Tyson’s got a cut there. We’ll see how it heals. It’s the biggest fight in boxing. Everybody wants to see it. They’ll see it in Saudi, it’ll break all box office records.”

Fury was knocked down by Ngannou (Getty Images)
Fury was knocked down by Ngannou (Getty Images)

Fury had previously criticised the timing of an initial announcement of his fight with Usyk, which came out during his preparations for Ngannou.

“It wasn’t my choice,” the Briton, 35, said on The MMA Hour on Wednesday 25 October. “I would never in a million years do that, but the people who are putting these fights on, who are paying the money, they’re in control. They’re the promoters of the event.

“So, the paymaster does what the paymaster wants, basically. But if it was up to me, I would have never, ever, ever done that, ever. Because I never count chickens before they hatch, ever [...] They should never announce fights before the first one happens, because that’s how people get knocked out.

“But I’m not even looking at the next fight. I’m only concentrating on Francis. If it means breaking these two hands and getting a cut right through [my eyebrow] to win, I will do it. Don’t worry about that. Nothing else matters, only Saturday night.

“I wasn’t happy at first, for them to announce it, but there was a lot going on in the background. For me, I don’t concentrate on any other fight other than Saturday night. What happens in the future stays in the future.

“I’m living for today and this moment. My moment now is to fight Francis for the ‘baddest man on the planet’ title, and when I’ve won that, only after I’ve won that, I won’t even think about my next [fight] until I’ve had a week off and spent some time with my family. I’ve been in camp 12 weeks.”