Tyson Fury had barely finished giving Derek Chisora a half-honest pat on the back when he felt a gash from two dagger eyes – lurking under a blanket, somewhere in his perimeter, floating towards him. As a broken Chisora walked out of sight, Oleksandr Usyk climbed the steps of the arena like Hades emerging from the netherworld, searching for his next soul. As Fury insulted the Unified Heavyweight Champion, a toothy smile split Usyk’s lips.
This was the Ukrainian’s first meeting with the WBC champion at the London Stadium, but it was not supposed to be his last. It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult.
Fans have been told that within six months of the Fury’s unnecessary and uncomfortable victory over Chisora at Tottenham Hotspur, the “Gypsy King” and Usyk will collide and be crowned undisputed champions. Wembley Stadium was to be the site, and 29 April was the date.
At 10 am this morning, that match has been cancelled. By 12 noon it looked like he was back in business. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard.
Fury’s frosty three-way match with Chisora in December served as a build-up to a potential intergenerational showdown with Anthony Joshua. That clash collapsed, according to Fury, on unrealistic terms on AJ’s part. It was a suspicious accusation, given that Joshua — still recovering from his second straight loss to Usyk — seemingly shrugged and said, “Why the hell not?” To fight with Fury, a year and a half after the last failure to create the contest.
Based on the format and date, the likely outcome in December was Joshua defeated and Fury victorious; However, the former was the most prepared to go into the fight, approaching the match against the fellow Brit with a no-lose mentality, when all signs indicated that losing would be the death knell for Joshua’s career. Instead, the failed negotiations were the death knell for Fury vs Joshua.
The danger of sharing the ring with Joshua should not be underestimated, but it is an ill-conceived attempt to ascertain why Fury would oppose a fight in such circumstances – particularly given the “Gypsy King”‘s claims of competing “for the people”, and the fact that December likely marks Last chance to do this match (with the Brits on their debut, at least).
Not only did some feel that Fury vs Joshua would never materialize, but it was never intended. Rumors swirled that there was already a plan for Fury to set up the 39-year-old Chisora, whom he had already defeated twice, and the speed with which their third meeting seemed to corroborate these reports. Fury and his fans blamed Joshua for the breakdown of the duet match, despite the consensus being that the WBC champion was at fault.
But with Usyk? It was supposed to be different. Yes, it’s possible that Fury will be involved in similar games again, but the hope was that it would be purely performance-oriented. Meanwhile, Usyk’s unique focus on legacy should certainly streamline negotiations.
However, nowadays, even the most plausible predictions in such scenarios are becoming perfect – even unrealistic.
The first revelation was that Fury had declined to split a purse of 60-40, weighted in favor of the winner; His counter was 70-30 split in his favor, regardless of the outcome. Usyk, whether he was supposed to accept or not. Some have seen it as Usyk calling Fury a “trick”, suggesting that the Briton really didn’t want to fight, and while these pages would never offer an accusation of one fighter sparing the other, it seems a reasonable assumption that Fury didn’t expect Usyk to do so. . Agree to this term.
The next development was around the rematch clause. Fury demanded Ukraine take one off, before accusing the 34-year-old Usyk of proposing the clause in the first place. However, negotiations moved forward.
Until they stopped. Usyk’s promoter Alex Krasiuk claimed on Wednesday that the fight was “off”. “It’s because he went too far,” he told Talksport. After accepting Usyk 70-30, Fury started to think he could put a saddle on his neck and start riding Usyk as far as he could. If it’s so complicated that Tyson is trying to avoid it by putting up too many hurdles for a deal to be done, then there’s no need to put more effort into it.
“If I start telling you a list of things [Fury] Needed, 15 minutes will not be enough. There was a list of things he wanted to get his favour, which was totally unacceptable – and a total disrespect for the unified and former undisputed champion. [cruiserweight] hero.”
Krasiuk’s counterpart on Fury’s side, Frank Warren, insisted the fight could be revived, expressing his willingness to renegotiate his rematch clause.
However, it may be too late. Usyk is already 36 years old, and he already has a plan B: a title defense against WBA mandatory challenger Daniel Dubois. While Dubois, 25, has shown promise, there is a possibility the Briton could become a victim of a boxer’s pass by Usyk.
As for Fury? His next move will be less clear. The WBC champion has spoken of the possibility of a fourth showdown with Deontay Wilder, with whom he fought one of the sport’s greatest trios. However, there is little appetite for that fight as there was for Fury vs Chisora 3.
Fury vs Joshua, even after the latter’s losses to Usyk, was a celebration of this generation’s preeminent British heavyweight. Fury vs Usyk could have been the biggest bout of the past two decades, considering the talent and stakes involved. Fury may have cost fans the chance to see the first of those contests, and he’s in danger of ruining another era-defining fight, just three months later.
If Fury vs Usyk doesn’t happen this year, it could be sent to the same folder as Fury vs Joshua – one featuring big-loser boxing fights. And if Fury and Usyk are to go their separate ways this spring, win their next match, and gravitate back into each other, the Brits, meanwhile, must accept that the biggest battles require compromises.
Otherwise, Fury may be remembered as much a specialist in sabotage as he will be remembered as a combative phenomenon.
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