Tyson Fury 'ready for a good fight' against Oleksandr Usyk

Fury reserved during final press conference and refuses to face off with opponent ahead of Saturday’s undisputed world heavyweight showdown in Riyadh

British boxer Tyson Fury, left, and Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine pose after attending a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Tyson Fury declared himself "ready" for the challenge of Oleksandr Usyk but refused to engage with his opponent in a face off at Thursday's final press conference ahead of Saturday’s undisputed world heavyweight showdown in Riyadh.

Usyk turned to face Fury on stage but the Englishman stared straight ahead facing the crowd with his arms folded.

The WBC champion, wearing a flame suit in a nod to the event’s "Ring of Fire" billing, began flexing his muscles and mouthing the words of Rocky IV theme music Hearts on Fire.

When he eventually turned his body to face Usyk he was still looking into the crowd and his Ukrainian opponent eventually bowed and left the stage, having had enough of the mind games.

It was a twist from Fury's usual pre-fight ritual, where trash talking and espousing his own abilities is a common theme. He was far more reserved on Thursday night as the biggest heavyweight clash for 25 years draws close.

Usyk spoke the final words at the press conference, summing up the attitude of both fighters by declaring “let the hands do the talking”.

When Fury spoke he thanked God and organisers for putting on the event as well as his opponent "for challenging me".

“I’m ready. I’ve got nothing else to say apart from I’m ready for a good fight,” he added.

When asked why he didn’t look at Usyk, Fury said it was because “he’s a scary looking dude” before offering a more measured “God bless him. I’ll say a prayer for him before the fight for us both to get out of the ring safely.”

Usyk, who won his WBA, IBF and WBO belts by outpointing Anthony Joshua in 2021, arrived for the press conference wearing a white suit with a black and white sash showing a traditional Ukrainian pattern.

Positioned behind his belts, he also spent time doodling with a pen and paper and when asked what he was drawing, he replied “it’s my homework. It’s a poem”, but would not elaborate any further.

“I’m happy to be here. I’m excited. Let’s make history. Enough,” was the former undisputed cruiserweight champion’s longest answer.

To underline the bout’s place in history, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield were among the crowd.

Lewis was the last man to rule the heavyweight division when he defeated Holyfield in 1999, before being stripped of the WBA belt the following year. Another former heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes, was also present.

“This is a great fight, it’s the fight we’ve all been waiting for,” Queensbury Promotions boss Frank Warren said.

“They’re the two best heavyweights in the world, both undefeated. The two best heavyweights of a generation.”

Both Fury and Usyk are undefeated in their professional careers. Fury has won 34 of his 35 fights with one draw while Usyk boasts a perfect 21-0 record.

Updated: May 17, 2024, 5:34 AM