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Sources – The title match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk is scheduled for February.

Sources – The title match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk is scheduled for February.

Mike CoppingerespnOctober 31, 2023 at 06:34 PM ET4 minutes to read

Fury: Ngannou ‘one of the toughest fights’ of the past decade

Tyson Fury credits Francis Ngannou for his performance in their fight, claiming it to be his toughest in the past decade.

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will compete for the undisputed heavyweight championship in February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN.

The Fury-Usyk bout was scheduled for December 23 before Fury battled through a tougher-than-expected bout with former UFC champion Francis Ngannou on Saturday in Riyadh. Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) suffered a cut to his forehead and left eye en route to a split decision win over Ngannou, who was making his professional boxing debut.

Fury, 35, was even dropped in the third round, the seventh knockout of his illustrious career.

Fury and Usyk signed contracts for their long-awaited fight for heavyweight supremacy weeks before “The Gyspy King” stepped through the ropes to fight Ngannou in a 10-round non-title bout.

After the decision was announced, Usyk (21-0, 14 KO) entered the ring to confront Fury and set up their confrontation.

Usyk, who entered the ring after the decision was issued, said: “December 23, I am ready to fight.” “Let’s go now if you want,” said Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion. “…He’s a smaller man than Francis. I always said Francis was a more dangerous fighter than Oleksandr.”

The day before the fight, Usyk posted on Instagram: “Francis, be careful with Tyson, I need him in the ring on December 23rd.” But now, Usyk will have to wait another two months until he can finally get his hands on Fury.

Fury and Usyk were on the verge of reaching an agreement to meet last April at London’s Wembley Stadium before talks broke down at the eleventh hour.

Despite losing in the third round, Tyson Fury, right, was able to pick up a split decision win over former UFC star Francis Ngannou on Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Usyk, 36, is an Olympic gold medalist and former undisputed cruiserweight champion. The Ukrainian holds the WBA, WBO and IBF titles, belts he won from Anthony Joshua in 2021. Usyk retained the titles in a rematch with another decision win over Joshua last summer in Saudi Arabia.

Now that the fight against Fury will take place in 2024, it ensures that Usyk will last another year with just one fight. Last time Usyk fought multiple times in one year: 2018, when he competed three times.

He last fought in August, when he scored a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Dubois in Poland. Usyk is ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight boxer and No. 3 pound-for-pound boxer. Fury entered the bout ranked No. 1 at heavyweight and No. 6 pound-for-pound. Fury fought England twice last year, both winning by technical knockout (TKO) at football stadiums in London (in April against Dillian Whyte and in December against Dereck Chisora).

This is Fury’s second title. He beat another Ukrainian, Wladimir Klitschko, in 2015 to capture three heavyweight titles via decision in an upset. Fury never defended these titles and instead remained out of the ring for two and a half years due to depression and drug abuse. He weighed more than 400 pounds during that time.

After Fury returned from that hiatus, he proved himself as one of the biggest stars in boxing by winning three classic heavyweight titles with Deontay Wilder, who stopped him twice after a draw in the first meeting. Fury’s third fight with Wilder was ESPN’s Fight of 2021 and KO of the Year.

The Fury-Usyk deal contains a two-way rematch clause, effectively guaranteeing two consecutive fights between the pair for $10 million.

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