Boxing’s heavyweight division will crown an undisputed champion for the first time in almost 25 years after Tyson Fury’s bout with Oleksandr Usyk was confirmed for February 17 in Riyadh.
The unification fight between Fury, the WBC title holder, and Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion was confirmed at a press conference in London on Thursday.
Billed as “Ring of Fire”, it is the second major Saudi Arabia-hosted card to be sealed in the past 24 hours after the announcement of ‘Day of Reckoning’, the December 23 bill featuring Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in separate bouts.
Boxing last crowned an undisputed heavyweight champion in 1999 when Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield, and the winner of the February 17 clash will be the first big man to hold all four of the major sanctioning body titles.
Originally scheduled for December 23, the unification fight was postponed after Fury sustained injuries in his surprisingly problematic showdown with ex-UFC star Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on October 28.
"This is a historic event. The whole world of boxing has been waiting for many, many years, and they now have this fight," Fury's promoter Frank Warren told the press conference. "For the first time this century, we will have an undisputed heavyweight champion.
"As a promoter I've been banging my head against the wall. But now we have the creme de la creme. These two undefeated heavyweight fighters."
In trademark fashion, Fury was loud and abusive towards Usyk. The Ukrainian kept his cool, insisting he would do his talking in the ring.
"I already relieved one Ukrainian of all the belts, and now I'm going to take them all back," Fury said, referencing his 2015 victory over former champion Wladimir Klitschko.
"Usyk's a champion, I'm a champion. It's going to be a fight for the ages. He's a good boxer, slick. But I've seen people like him before, and when they fight the big man, they lose.
"I believe we're both destined to be here. I'm destined to become the undisputed champion, and more than that, cement my legacy."
Fury repeatedly called Usyk a "sausage" and made disparaging references to his height and appearance.
But Usyk said: "Yes I'm a little man. I'll speak in the ring."
Fury is undefeated in 35 fights, winning 34, with one draw. He first became champion after dethroning Klitschko and then reclaimed the WBC belt when he beat Deontay Wilder in their 2020 rematch. The first fight had been a controversial split draw.
Usyk, who has won all 21 of his fights, has been the WBA, IBF and WBO title holder since defeating Anthony Joshua in 2021.