Tyson Fury’s showdown against Oleksandr Usyk for all four major world heavyweight titles has been postponed because of a “freak cut” the Briton has sustained above his right eye.
Fury was due to defend his WBC belt on February 17 in Saudi Arabia against his Ukrainian rival, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, in the first undisputed world heavyweight title fight of this century.
But with just 15 days to go until one of the most anticipated fights of the year, Fury’s promoters Queensberry announced their charge had suffered an injury during a sparring session at his Riyadh training camp.
Fury said in a statement: “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. I can only apologise to everyone affected.”
An image on Queensberry’s X account of Fury’s face showed the damage, with the undefeated Morecambe fighter (34-0-1, 24KOs) needing medical attention and what was termed “significant stitching”.
FURY VS USYK STATEMENT pic.twitter.com/z7nf4Q3N70
— Queensberry Promotions (@Queensberry) February 2, 2024
“Can’t help getting injured in sparring but what I can say was Usyk was in trouble, I am in fantastic shape,” Fury added on Instagram. “I will reschedule soon as I can. 2024 (is) a massive year for (me).”
Frank Warren, who runs Queensberry, told TalkSport the cut happened on Friday morning “in sparring with a Croatian heavyweight who caught his eye with his elbow”.
Fury was distinctly lacklustre in his most recent outing against mixed martial artist Francis Ngannou, a non-title contest many observers thought he was fortunate to win by split decision in October.
It was felt a bout against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk (21-0, 14KOs) would sharpen Fury’s focus as the winner would be crowned the division’s first undisputed champion since 1999.
Fury was bidding to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Lennox Lewis, who beat Evander Holyfield 25 years ago to capture the WBC, WBA and IBF crowns. The WBO belt was not regarded as a major belt then.
A Queensberry spokesperson added: “It is clearly a massive disappointment, after the work that has been done by so many people to finally deliver this historic event to the world.
“Once the doctors have appraised Tyson’s eye, we will have a better idea of the period of recovery needed.
“Once known we will work diligently with all the stakeholders and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reschedule this fight as soon as possible.”