According to various reports, the undisputed title fight between WBC Champion Tyson Fury and unified champ Oleksandr Usyk is now off.
“Here we go again” is how I like to describe things when it comes to trying to get an undisputed heavyweight title fight made in 2023. The fight between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (33-0-1) & unified champ Oleksandr Usyk (20-0) appears to have gone to “Bolivian,” as Mike Tyson once said. Last night, veteran boxing journalist Steve Kim tweeted, “Just got off the horn with Egis Klimas, he says that team Usyk is moving off the Fury fight for April 29th and will now pursue their mandatory obligations. ‘No matter how much Usyk compromised, he was pushed for more.’ They hope to have him back in June/July #boxing.“ When I saw this, my eyes just rolled as it seemed like this fight just couldn’t happen for one reason or the other.
TYSON FURY DOING TYSON FURY THINGS
The WBC heavyweight champion is not only the king of talking smack but also of playing mind games. In recent years, he has taken a hard stance on having things completely his way or no way while also changing his mind half a dozen times. As one source told me within the last two years, “Fury can decide on something on the spot, and plans can change that quickly.” An example of that was when Fury announced he was retiring from the sport after beating Dillian Whyte in April of last year. He mentioned pursuing the WWE and potentially fighting an MMA heavyweight in a hybrid match. That announcement was short-lived; the only thing it cost him was The Ring Magazine title.
Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World. pic.twitter.com/iIlvnouAtt
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) March 14, 2023
Once the calendar turned the page bringing in 2023, Fury began his social media callouts of the “middleweight” (Usyk), which sparked Usyk to respond and off to the races we went. Negotiations began, and it looked like we would have an undisputed title fight in Saudi Arabia. For one reason or the other, those talks fell through and out came a date for April 29 at Wembley Stadium in the U.K. Then the argument over purse splits and rematch clauses kept stalling the talks, and it went from having a verbal agreement to not getting the fight at all.
If no Usyk, then who? Andy Ruiz Jr. (35-2) is no stranger to being a last-minute replacement and would be an option or Cuban Frank Sanchez (21-0). All interesting opponents, but the Ruiz one would be the fight that could push ticket sales and interest.
OLEKSANDR USYK IS THE UNIFIED CHAMP BUT IS NOT BEING TREATED AS SUCH
Unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is what you would call a true world champion. He has traveled worldwide to face fighters and earn the titles that accompany it. He became the undisputed cruiserweight champion doing this and is looking at becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion. There is no question that Usyk wants this fight, even if it comes at the initial cost of a 70-30 split to favor Fury. Even with the purse split dramatically favoring Fury, Usyk still posted videos on social media, some funny, others more serious, where he called Fury out and basically told him to stop the games and sign the contract.
— Alexander Usyk (@usykaa) March 14, 2023
Although his manager Egis Klimas told Steve Kim they were moving on, that could be a tactic to force Fury’s hand. Frank Warren told ESPN that “the sides ironed out all of the issues Sunday except for the split of net revenue in the rematch.“ Usyk is probably ready to move on, but the problem becomes, who does he fight next? Daniel Dubois (18-1) is injured, and likely won’t return until late summer at the earliest. There is Martin Bakole (16-1), but after him is a really interesting name, Deontay Wilder (42-1-1). The Wilder fight would be big here in the states and an acceptable replacement for the Fury fight not happening.
My Three Cents
Although this is the closest we have been to an undisputed heavyweight title fight in recent years, this fight may fall into the category of a fight that could’ve, should’ve but didn’t happen, like Lennox Lewis vs. Riddick Bowe. It’s a tough pill to swallow for fight fans, but this is the sport we watch, so at this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.