Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will battle it out for undisputed status in the heavyweight division on February 17, and up until recently fans assumed they would be an immediate rematch.
The two heavyweight world champions had previously struggled to get a deal over the line, with one issue being the inclusion of a contracted second fight.
Enter Saudi Arabia and Riyadh Season, the promotional force that managed to get both champions to sign. Reports suggested that there was still a rematch in place for the loser to activate.
That was until Saudi’s Chairman of General Authority for Entertainment, Turki Al-Sheikh, said at the press conference for Anthony Joshua’s upcoming fight with Francis Ngannou that the winner would get a shot at the undisputed title.
The plans suggest that Fury and Usyk may not be fighting twice, and also brings into question previous talk that the IBF will strip the winner of the fight due to being unable to fulfil his mandatory obligation against number one challenger, Filip Hrgovic.
The President of the WBC, Mauricio Sulaiman, has previewed the fight in a recent news article and said there ‘will be a chapter two.’
“For this year there are already two big shows on the horizon, in less than a month Riyadh will receive the fight anticipated by all fans, the most important in the heavyweight category in at least 25 years, “Ring of Fire” will be held. It is about the fight for the undisputed title, with all four belts at stake (WBC-WBA-WBO-IBF). Our champion, British Tyson Fury, will face Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk this coming February 17. The fight has been officially sanctioned and even with the condition of a rematch, no matter what happens, there will be chapter two of this epic. The last Undisputed heavyweight champion was Lennox Lewis who will be a guest of honour and will represent the WBC in crowning the new Undisputed champion.”
When addressing the Joshua-Ngannou fight, Sulaiman did say the winner was in for ‘immediate plans’, but didn’t give his opinion on what those might be.
“March 8 there is also the “Knockout Chaos” card in which Anthony Joshua faces the sensation Francis Ngannou, the winner will be in a privileged position for immediate plans in the Kingdom, so this fight is the most important of their life.”
The plans are unlikely to become any clearer to fans until both bouts are done and dusted. Fury has previously said he will drop all belts other than the WBC and Ring Magazine title.