By Craig Daly: Eddie Hearn says IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk will not be ready to face WBC champ Tyson Fury on December 23rd because he has some injuries he’s dealing with from his title defense last August against Daniel Dubois.
In fact, Hearn says Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) hasn’t even begun training for the December date, which is eight weeks away. That said, Hearn states that Usyk could still take the fight on that date due to the big payday he’ll be getting from the Saudis, but whether he’s 100% for the contest is another thing.
Hearn says that Fury is aware that Usyk, 36, isn’t going to be ready physically for that date and will “shame” him when he’s unavailable.
By doing that, Fury can show the fans that hasn’t been ducking Usyk, which many of them are convinced is the case.
A lot of the boxing fans think the only reason Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) has finally agreed to the fight with Usyk is because he was offered a ton of money by the Saudis, and he didn’t want to look like a coward in their eyes by refusing to face him.
Hearn isn’t impressed with Fury’s string of fights since his victory over Deontay Wilder in 2021. After Saturday night’s fight, these are the three opponents Fury will have faced in the last two years:
Where did Fury’s ambition go? Some would say Wilder knocked it out of him in their third fight when he dropped him twice and had him seemingly knocked out in the fourth, if not for the long count by the referee that saved Tyson from suffering his first career defeat.
The Saudis are giving Fury a lot of dough to fight novice Francis Ngannou this Saturday, October 28th, at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Usyk won’t be ready for December 23rd
“I think Usyk is not ready for December 23rd, ideally to him. I think Tyson Fury realizes that, and now I think Tyson Fury is going to turn the screw and look to shame Usyk when he’s not available for the 23rd maybe,” said Eddie Hearn to Boxing Social about IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksander Usyk possibly not being ready to face WBC champ Tyson Fury on December 23rd for the undisputed championship in Saudi Arabia.
It’ll be pathetic if Fury chooses to use Usyk not being ready for the December 23rd date to convince his fans that he wasn’t ducking him, but it’s likely that he will dump on him publicly if he can’t fight.
Fury is clearly bothered that the boxing world thinks he’s been living in fear of Usyk, and this would be his chance to tell them, ‘See, Usyk doesn’t want it. He’s afraid of me.’
Tyson’s fans will buy it, but the more intelligent fans will see it as a case of Fury trying to resurrect his self-image, which is in the dumps due to his avoidance of Oleksandr and the poor opposition he’s been fighting since 2022.
“I know after the [Daniel] Dubois fight [on August 26th], he [Usyk] had a few dents and knocks,” said Hearn. “What is the 23rd, eight weeks? Usyk is not even in camp. So, eight weeks to prepare for the undisputed fight? He already said that he would like 14 weeks.
“The money is going to be huge, so he may be forced into it,” Hearn said about Usyk. “Maybe Fury knows Usyk won’t be 100% for December 23rd, and that’s even better for him. Fury has got to think that he’s done whatever he’s done, nine weeks, ten weeks.
“Now, he’s got to do another eight weeks before that fight. It’s a long old camp, but I think it comes down to the paymasters, the Saudis. They will say, ‘We want to go on that date,’ and there’s so much money at stake that they’ll probably do it. That’s probably the vibe I’m getting.
“I do believe we’ll see the fight,” Hearn said about the Fury vs. Usyk contest. “I just feel that Usyk is not in camp and not 100% fit & ready for that date, but he could still do it because of the money,” said Hearn,
Big fight this weekend
“You got to give it to old Frankie [Warren] and Bob [Arum]. A 95-year-old geezer and a 75-year-old,” said Hearn. “It’s like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Have you seen that film? Frank is absolutely flying out there. He’s copped a nice few quid. Good luck to him. So, I don’t mind the back & forth.
Hearn is talking about promoters Frank Warren & Bob Arum, who co-promote Fury and who are riding high with the mega-money event this Saturday in Saudi Arabia.
The Fury-Ngannou crossover event is one that the Saudis love, but it has not been well-received by U.S fans and by hardcore boxing fans in the UK, who see it as an example of how Fury is further debasing himself to make easy coin. He’s longer motivated to take risky fights and is choosing to fight non-boxers.
“AJ was not in a dark room to get away from me, and once again, all the talk is about Anthony Joshua, and they’ve got to try and sell this fight [Fury vs. Ngannou] because it’s not a competitive fight,” said Hearn.
“I don’t mind the digs and the jibes from Frank and Bob. They’re loving life over there, aren’t they? They said it’s the biggest event they’ve ever been involved with in boxing, which is interesting. I don’t blame anybody for doing it. It’s an easy night’s work for Tyson Fury.”
A lot of growth in Middle East
“Bob [Arum] is going to say a lot of mad stuff. I don’t think AJ’s profile is as big as Fury’s profile in America because Fury has had three fights there against Deontay Wilder,” said Hearn, reacting to Arum saying that U.S boxing fans don’t know who Joshua is.
“AJ is a huge name globally, but I don’t really care. Who cares if he’s a big name? We’re just going to have the fights that we’re going to have, and then it’ll be decided in the ring, won’t it? I think the less focus on AJ, maybe the better, and we’ll just quietly do our business.
“I see a really determined fighter in Anthony Joshua. We have our opinions, and sir Robert [Bob Arum] has his.
“The British Boxing Board of Control they are sanctioning the fight between the #1 heavyweight in the world champion [Fury] and a man that has never had a professional boxing fight [Ngannou]. It’s the world, isn’t it? I don’t knock anybody for it.”
It bothers Hearn that the BBBofC has sanctioned the Fury vs. Ngannoy fight as real fight that counts on the record books, but what’s done is done. The fight will count on Fury’s resume, but he won’t have his WBC title on the line. That would be crazy if Ngannou were to challenge for the WBC title in his first fight as a pro.
“The WBC probably sees an opportunity for growth in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia,” said Hearn. “It’s an event that will draw a lot of eyeballs, and they decided to put on a belt. But the real stuff is here in Cancun for the WBC [super featherweight champion O’Shaquie Foster vs. Rocky Hernandez this Saturday night on DAZN].
“I’m not saying we’re competing this week. This week, we’re minnows in the boxing world, but we’re real, and we’re in a 50-50 fight for the real WBC [130-lb] title in Cancun. So that stuff [Fury vs. Ngannou] is nice. I’ve had loads of questions, ‘Is it good or bad for boxing?’ I don’t really know.”
Hearn’s event this Saturday night, headlined by WBC 130-lb champion Foster defending against Hernandez, hasn’t received a lot of interest from fans. Foster is a new champion and not a big puncher.
“I think anything is really bad for boxing. Ngannou said to me, ‘I want to fight Anthony Joshua.’ I went to AJ, and he said, ‘Not in a million years. I want to stay in boxing, and I want to win a heavyweight world championship,’ but he’s in a very different position in his career to Fury,” said Hearn.
“Fury loves it out there [in Saudi Arabia]. He’s being treated like a king. He has to go through normal customs when he returns to the UK, and he’s not happy about that at all,” said Hearn.