Oleksandr Usyk could only allow Tyson Fury to call him a sausage so many times before he finally gave in and offered his thoughts on their upcoming undisputed heavyweight championship.
The two-division and current unified WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight titlist stared down the opposite end of the dais as his future opponent rambled about all the things he will do in their summit meeting. Only when he found a point on which he agreed—his being the physically smaller of the two—did the unbeaten Ukrainian take to the mic.
“You stop? You had enough? You stop talking,” Usyk asked Fury during their kickoff press conference Thursday at OVO Arena Wembley in London. “Yes, I’m little man. To you, I’m a little man but I’m a bigger champion.”
Manchester’s Fury (34-0-1, 24KOs) and Ukraine’s Usyk (21-0, 14KOs) will vie for all of the divisional hardware atop a February 17 show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The winner will be crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis outpointed Evander Holyfield in their November 1999 rematch.
Fury is a recognized two-time lineal heavyweight champion who has owned every belt at some point over two separate reigns, though never all at once. Despite his success in boxing’s most storied division, there is an argument to be made that Usyk is the better credentialed fighter.
The 36-year-old southpaw won a Gold medal for Ukraine during the 2012 London Olympics and is perfect through ten years as a pro. He fully unified the cruiserweight division, winning all of the belts versus unbeaten titlists all on the road.
His success carried over into the heavyweight division, where Usyk a perfect 5-0 including back-to-back wins over Anthony Joshua (26-3, 23KOs) to win and defend the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. He retained his unified crown after a ninth-round knockout of London’s Daniel Dubois (19-2, 18KOs) on August 26 in Wroclaw, Poland.
While he was the smaller man in each of those bouts, the 6’3” Usyk is at a considerably greater size disadvantage in this matchup. Fury has six inches in height and seven inches in reach over Usyk, who turned to biblical history to plead his case in this matchup.
“I want to tell one story which looks similar to our story with Tyson. That is David and Goliath,” noted Usyk, who is 9-0 (5KOs) in title fights spanning two divisions and more than seven years. “When the Lord gives me Tyson in my hands, I will do my job.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox