Undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is withdrawing from the heavyweight title unification fight against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk scheduled for Feb. 17.
Fury confirmed multiple reports Friday that he’d sustained a deep cut over his right eye while sparring in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by sharing a photo of the injury via social media. The cut required urgent medical attention and significant stitching, his representation said.
The 35-year-old accompanied the image with a statement about his disappointment that his matchup with the owner of the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts will be delayed.
“I am absolutely devastated after preparing for this fight for so long and being in such superb condition,” Fury wrote. “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.”
Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) and Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) were slated to headline a major pay-per-view event at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh. It could reportedly be scheduled for sometime during June in the same place. But if Saudi Arabia’s Turki Alalshikh doesn’t cancel the card, Usyk could be allowed to defend his titles as planned — against a different opponent.
The bout between Fury and Usyk, 37, was set to establish the first fully unified heavyweight champion of boxing’s four-belt era. While Filip Hrgovic is a potential candidate for Usyk to fight and fulfill his obligations with the IBF, it won’t be the fight fans were waiting for.
Fury and Usyk were already bringing the drama in their first news conference in November, literally butting heads after a face-off that had Sylvester Stallone in attendance. Things were immediately tense at the London event, as Fury directed a multitude of insults at Usyk. The unified champion welcomed the remarks before things almost got physical.
Fury has more to gain from a fight with Usyk, following a near-disaster against MMA champ-turned-boxer Francis Ngannou. That said, Usyk’s most recent outing had a controversy of its own. The ninth-round KO of Daniel Dubois featured a questionable low-blow call that gave Usyk four minutes of recovery time.