LAS VEGAS – The date of Tyson Fury’s fight against Oleksandr Usyk will mostly depend upon him emerging unscathed from his exhibition with Francis Ngannou.
Turki Alalshikh, chairman of The General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia, wants Fury and Usyk to square off as soon as possible, perhaps as early as December 23, at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter, informed BoxingScene.com that Fury’s availability just eight weeks after he encounters Ngannou will require the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) to not only beat Ngannou on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but to leave the ring without any physical problems that would delay the scheduling of his heavyweight title unification fight versus Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs)
“It depends primarily on Fury’s condition after this Ngannou fight,” Arum said. “If Fury emerges with no hand problems, no cuts and so forth, it’ll be earlier rather than later. But it’ll be in the winter. It’ll be in the winter and will be certainly before Ramadan.”
Ramadan – the Muslim month for fasting, prayer and reflection – is scheduled to begin March 10.
The 35-year-old Fury is listed by FanDuel sportsbook as more than a 13-1 favorite to beat Ngannou, a hard-hitting former UFC heavyweight champion who has very little boxing experience. Their 10-round exhibition will headline an ESPN Pay-Per-View show in the United States two weeks from Saturday.
Arum would’ve preferred that the Fury-Usyk fight weren’t announced before Fury faces Ngannou, just in case Fury gets injured that night or in the less likely event that he loses. The long-awaited showdown between England’s Fury, the WBC champion, and Ukraine’s Usyk, the IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champ, was officially announced Friday.
“Our deal with the Saudis, Frank Warren and ourselves, is they take our advice, but they’re putting up the money,” Arum said. “And if they’re putting up the money, they have the right to say the date, time and everything. I’m not so thrilled with the timing of the announcement. But again, they know more than I do as far as what’s going on in the kingdom and so forth, so we go along with it.
“Could this announcement have waited until after the [Fury-Ngannou] fight? Of course. But again, they’re putting up the money. Understand that. Just like promoters do certain things, and you ask why are they doing it? Because the network that’s putting on the fight asked them to do it. And they’re paying the money.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.