The long-anticipated fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship has been postponed after Fury suffered a deep cut over his right eye while sparring Friday.
Fury and Usyk will still meet for heavyweight supremacy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, just not on Feb. 17 as planned. When that fight will happen is undetermined. Once Fury, who sources said received 15 stitches to close the gash, is further examined by a doctor, a timeframe for the fight will become clearer.
For now, boxing fans are left with the disappointment of the biggest fight in the sport being removed from the schedule, along with the solace that the bout will be rescheduled.
What does this all mean? Let’s take a look:
How did Fury suffer the cut?
FURY VS USYK STATEMENT pic.twitter.com/z7nf4Q3N70
— Queensberry Promotions (@Queensberry) February 2, 2024
Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) was putting the finishing touches on training camp in Riyadh when he suffered a gruesome cut over his right eye while sparring on Friday.
Fury, sources told ESPN, required 15 stitches to close the gash, making it impossible for him to fight in two weeks.
A video that’s circulated on social media shows Fury, wearing headgear, absorbing an elbow from his sparring partner before “The Gypsy King” paused the action. Fury’s promoter, Queensberry, posted a photo of the cut, which showed the severity.
“I am absolutely devastated after preparing for this fight for so long and being in such superb condition,” said Fury. “I feel bad for everyone involved in this huge event and I will work diligently towards the rescheduled date once the eye has healed.
“I can only apologize to everyone affected including my own team, Team Usyk, the undercard fighters, partners, and fans as well as our hosts and my friends in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Typically, fighters wrap up sparring 10 days out, so this was one of Fury’s final sparring sessions ahead of the fight.
Will Usyk still fight on Feb. 17?
Efforts are being made for Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) to remain on the Feb. 17 date and defend his three heavyweight titles, but nothing has been finalized yet. If the Ukrainian, 36, does proceed with a fight on that date, the front-runner to replace Fury is Filip Hrgovic.
Croatia’s Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs) is ESPN’s No. 6 heavyweight. He has already competed twice in Riyadh, including a controversial decision win over Zhilei Zhang in August 2022 in the co-main to the Usyk-Joshua rematch.
Hrgovic, 31, is the IBF’s mandatory challenger for the organization’s heavyweight championship held by Usyk, who also holds the WBO and IBF belts.
“Now that Fury has gotten injured, I’m ready to step in and fight Usyk,” Hrgovic told ESPN on Friday. “Let’s go Usyk, you owe me my mandatory shot. It’s time to finally face me.”
When might Fury-Usyk be rescheduled?
That all depends on the severity of Fury’s cut following an examination by a doctor. Typically, it takes roughly four to six weeks for tissue to rebuild to maximum strength, and given the placement of the cut (directly over Fury’s right eye), the heavyweight champion will need to ensure he has fully recovered.
Perhaps most alarming is that Fury, 35, has already been cut in roughly the same area, and the scar tissue likely made him more prone to this gash and yet another one.
When England’s Fury was lined up for his rematch with Deontay Wilder, he staged a tune-up bout against Otto Wallin in September 2019. The bout was far tougher than expected and left Fury with a gruesome cut over his right eye that required 46 stitches.
Given that Fury likely won’t be able to spar for nearly six weeks, and will need an eight-week training camp to prepare for Usyk, the timetable for the rescheduled bout could be late May to early June.
And if Usyk does indeed fight on Feb. 17, that, too, could complicate the date for the rescheduled bout. Usyk would need to come out of the fight without any injuries to maintain that same timeframe.
What makes Fury-Usyk a superfight?
Fury and Usyk aren’t just the two best heavyweights in the world. The fight would also present a rare meeting between two heavyweights who are both on the pound-for-pound list.
Both Fury and Usyk are all-time great boxers headed for the Hall of Fame. The bout will also crown boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000 and the first in the four-belt era.
Fury and Usyk have been circling each other for years and appeared close to a deal for an April 2023 bout at London’s Wembley Stadium before talks collapsed.
The promotion hasn’t been a friendly one, with both boxers taunting one another. Fury, of course, is coming off a lackluster performance in October when he struggled to outpoint former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
Usyk is coming off a ninth-round KO victory over Daniel Dubois in August. Usyk’s résumé includes an Olympic gold medal, an undisputed cruiserweight title reign and two heavyweight title victories over Joshua.
Fury’s résumé boasts a classic heavyweight trilogy with Deontay Wilder, which featured two wins for Fury and a draw. The third meeting was named ESPN’s Fight of the Year and KO of the Year, and is considered one of the greatest fights in the history of the heavyweight division.
Fury also ended Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko’s title reign in 2015.