Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk: Behind the scenes, laughter is turning to anger

The heavyweight division is a bad pantomime now with Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, a chorus of fighters, a few promoters and some hefty backers all trying to work out what part of the dancing horse they are.

Moving away from the ugly sisters, there is every chance that the gap between the last championship fight and the next will be the longest in over 50 years. This break is not common, ignore people telling you that.

Fury defended his WBC title last December against his old, old friend, Derek Chisora, and Usyk beat Anthony Joshua for the second time last August in Saudi Arabia to retain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles. Fury has no date, just social media plans, and Usyk is due to defend in Poland in late August against Daniel Dubois.

It is hard to find a solitary reason for the break and even more difficult to put the blame on just one single person. There are a lot of people on the stage, and they all have a role to play. And to be honest, during the last six months they have all said too much.

Sure, greed, rivalries, stupidity, lies and ego are at the very core of the problem, but boxing at the highest level has always had the same flaws, the same fluid obstacles. The 8sharer excuses are there to overcome – that is how boxing works.

Fury and Usyk for all the tarnished marbles was meant to have been signed and sealed last September. It was scheduled for April and is now a plan for December. Both boxers have insulted the other, and the theme of their mutual abuse is simple: greed. Obviously, both deny they are the greedy, money-grabbing party in the sad affair. Actually, the righteous outrage from both sides is comedy gold at times. Fury’s father, the unstoppable “Gypsy John” Fury, has demanded that Usyk apologise for his criticism. He has warned that if there is no apology, there might be a straightener in a field somewhere, man-to-man. There is honour at stake. It is endless mirth, it really is.

Fury (right) beat Derek Chisora in December to stay unbeaten and retain the WBC heavyweight title (Zac Goodwin/PA)

(PA Wire)

c. Some of boxing’s wisest, richest and smartest brains have been involved in this ongoing lunacy. The men and women in the Fury camp blame Usyk, and the men and women in the Usyk camp blame Fury.

The two main players in the Fury business, Bob Arum and Frank Warren, have a combined total of 98 years of promotion; they are both battling this madness.

There is, according to some insiders, a one-off offer on the table from the government of Saudi Arabia for Fury and Usyk to fight there at the end of the year. Usyk has signed his deal. This offer is non-negotiable, and we know this because the media flown out to Saudi by the Saudi government have reported it as fact. As a guide to the way boxing works, there are seldom any facts involved when deals are being made, broken and made again. The real insiders are furious that Usyk and Fury, the biggest fight in boxing, is not yet across the line.

The sanctioning bodies, who get paid a fee for fights, have promised to get tough with their heavyweight champions, but have not said a word or done a thing; everyone is holding out for a slice of the Saudi cash pie. ‘Hey, it’s a business,’ they will say, but that little claim is wearing very thin.

Usyk (right) last fought in August, outpointing Anthony Joshua for the second fight in a row

(Getty Images)

Fury, meanwhile, has mentioned 10 possible opponents in his social media rants in the last few weeks, including a plan to fight two UFC icons in one night. Usyk and Dubois went to purse bids, which is one of boxing’s ancient rituals, and Usyk’s team won. The fight is scheduled for August.

Looking in from the side of the crowded stage is Joshua. His fight with Fury was announced by Fury on 10 June, 2020; it would have been a fight for the ages, for all the belts and all the bragging rights. It never happened and it has come close a couple of times since then. Joshua, meanwhile, will fight in August and it might be Dillian Whyte. There is a rumour that Whyte wants too much for the fight; the flip side of that rumour is that Whyte was offered too little.

In America, Deontay Wilder, twice beaten in classics by Fury, has not fought since last October. There is a plan, under the Saudi deal, for Wilder to fight Joshua in Saudi Arabia on the same night as Usyk and Fury fight. There is, so the paid publicists insist, a total purse of $400million on the table for the four boxers to split. It must be a strong table.

There are bold plans right now for the deadlock to be broken soon and some concrete dates and fights to finally be announced. The traffic, as they say in the world of espionage, is heavy. Let’s hope for some fights – the old game needs the best heavyweights back in action and out of the back end of that horse suit.

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