Tyson Fury blasts Oleksandr Usyk as he and Francis Ngannou come face to face

Heavyweight champion shows little interest in unification ahead of showdown with MMA star in Saudi Arabia

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Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has cast fresh doubt on the likelihood of a unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk and ridiculed the Ukrainian's performance in his recent victory over Daniel Dubois.

Fury was speaking at a press conference to promote his upcoming fight against MMA star Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 28. The bout pits Fury, the unbeaten WBC heavyweight title holder in a 10-rounder against Ngannou, formerly of the UFC, who has never boxed professionally.

Understandably, Fury, who appeared more out of shape than usual at Thursday's London press event, has received heavy criticism for his participation in the showcase event rather than facing any one of the credible challengers from within boxing.

They include British rival Anthony Joshua or more pertinently Usyk, who holds the other three major versions of the heavyweight title. The two recognised champions negotiated for a full unification earlier this year only for Fury to pull out after Usyk publicly accepted his demand for 70 per cent of the potential revenue.

Asked about revisiting a fight with Usyk, and it happening in Saudi Arabia, Fury said: "I'll do the fight [probably in Saudi Arabia] if he is willing to take it on the right terms.

"But does he really want it? Or will he just find someone to take peanuts again like he did against Dubois? We'll see. If he doesn't fancy the Gypsy King I've got other big projects coming up."

The mention of "big projects" should concern anyone with an interest in seeing Fury take the challenge of fighting Usyk, or even Joshua, in a fight that would still hold huge interest, particularly for a British audience.

Fury is the subject of a recently-launched Netflix show while in recent years has spent as much time in a WWE wrestling ring as he has the boxing ring. The 35-year-old has fought twice in the past 23 months, one an easy win over mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte, and the other a grotesque mismatch against the veteran Dereck Chisora, who he had already easily beaten twice.

Despite his own relative inactivity, Fury was still happy to denigrate Usyk's latest WBO, WBA and IBF title defence, a ninth round knockout of Dubois in Wroclaw, Poland, on August 26.

Usyk was floored heavily by a low blow in the fifth round, taking several minutes to recover before regaining the upper hand and overwhelming Dubois in the ninth.

But Fury said: "Once a bottler always a bottler, and that goes for Dubois as well. I'd knock out Usyk easy. He bottled it when Dubois hit him with a low blow. He was rolling around on the canvas squealing.

"I've taken worse than that and I carried on like a fighting man should. Then Dubois bottled it when he was put down. Both are quitters. Proven.

"Usyk surprised me because I thought he was a warrior. Now we know he's not. I wouldn't stop him with a body shot. I'd knock him out with punch to the chin.

"He would never get up the way I always do if I'm put down. If the fight ever happens he will have to come to me like the little man he is.

"After what we've seen now he can't expect a big share of the money."

Updated: September 08, 2023, 9:59 AM