A cut suffered in sparring has pulled WBC and lineal heavyweight titleholder Tyson Fury from his Feb. 17 championship clash against unified king Oleksandr Usyk, Fury’s promoter, Queensberry Promotions, announced on Friday.
The fight, which was scheduled to emanate from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, marked the first undisputed championship bout at heavyweight since the dawn of the four-belt modern era and the first time since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in their 1999 rematch that all recognized world titles in the division would belong to a single fighter.
“I am absolutely devastated after preparing for this fight for so long and being in such superb condition. I feel bad for everyone involved in this huge event and I will work diligently towards the rescheduled date once the eye has healed,” Fury said in a statement. “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.”
The severe cut, which will require significant stitching, could push the rescheduled date off to at least June, according to multiple reports. Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs), who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, is considering taking an interim fight, manager Egis Klimas told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, which could lead to Usyk staying on the fight card later this month against a new opponent.
Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), a native of England, put off making the Usyk fight for all of 2023 and nearly lost the opportunity in October when he was floored by former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in their 10-round non-title bout, also in Saudi Arabia, which the 35-year-old Fury won via split decision.
The 37-year-old Usyk captured his trio of titles in 2021 by upsetting Anthony Joshua in the first of back-to-back decision wins over the British star. A native of Ukraine, Usyk is a decorated former Olympic gold medalist and undisputed cruiserweight champion.
Among the fighters who could be in line as a replacement opponent for Usyk is Filip Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs), who is his IBF mandatory challenger. The 31-year-old Croatian slugger, who stands at 6-foot-6, accepted step-aside money to allow the undisputed fight to be scheduled.