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Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are set to fight but could the IBF get in the way?

Every time we move within touching distance of a heavyweight undisputed fight, something gets in the way. 

Whether that’s failed negotiations between two British superstars, or an unexpected arbitration case that enforces a brilliant but unwanted trilogy bout, the fight we’re all waiting for continues to elude us.  

But now, after Tyson Fury – as we all knew he would – easily dispatched of his old mate Derek Chisora, the coast is finally clear for the heavyweight top-dog to take on Oleksandr Usyk in an historic showdown. 

Tyson Fury (left) has revealed talks are underway to stage his fight against Oleksandr Usyk (right) in Saudi Arabia

Tyson Fury (left) has revealed talks are underway to stage his fight against Oleksandr Usyk (right) in Saudi Arabia

Fury battered a hapless Derek Chisora (left) on Saturday to retain his WBC heavyweight belt

Fury battered a hapless Derek Chisora (left) on Saturday to retain his WBC heavyweight belt

Fury battered a hapless Derek Chisora (left) on Saturday to retain his WBC heavyweight belt

Not since Lennox Lewis in 1999 has the heavyweight division had an undisputed champion, one man who stands above the rest as the undoubted, irrefutable No 1. But negotiations are now underway to make that happen, with talks to stage Fury vs Usyk in Saudi Arabia next year in the works. 

Fury revealed after his win over Chisora that he will require surgery on his elbow, which will take ‘about six-to-eight weeks’ to heal, but after that it’s go time. Let’s get it on, as the Gypsy King said on Saturday. 

So there it is, then. Simple, right? If only – boxing is never that easy. There is still the matter of contract negotiations to discuss. Will it be a 50-50 split? Will it be 60-40 for the winner in the inevitable rematch? What TV channel will it be on? Are there any mandatories that will get in the way? Do both men actually want the fight? 

These are the questions that still need answering. And if there’s one thing we learned from the recent failed negotiations between Joshua and Fury, it’s that securing a fight of this magnitude takes time. Just don’t introduce any ludicrous deadlines this time, Tyson, please. 

Fury and Usyk came face-to-face at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night

Fury and Usyk came face-to-face at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night

Fury and Usyk came face-to-face at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night

Fury was in negotiations to fight Anthony Joshua (left) for all the belts, but they fell through

Fury was in negotiations to fight Anthony Joshua (left) for all the belts, but they fell through

Fury was in negotiations to fight Anthony Joshua (left) for all the belts, but they fell through

The Gypsy King, 34, is looking to add Usyk's WBA, WBO and IBF belts to his WBC strap

The Gypsy King, 34, is looking to add Usyk's WBA, WBO and IBF belts to his WBC strap

The Gypsy King, 34, is looking to add Usyk’s WBA, WBO and IBF belts to his WBC strap

But let’s start with what we do know. Unlike the proposed bout between Joshua and Fury, which was a contractual nightmare in so many respects, we already know what TV channel it would be on: BT Sport Box Office in the UK and ESPN in the United States. 

Fury has been with Frank Warren and BT Sport since making his long-awaited comeback against Sefer Seferi in 2018, with his last seven fights – dating back to his first scrap against Deontay Wilder in 2018 –  being on BT Sport Box Office. 

Usyk, meanwhile, in beating Joshua in their competitive rematch in August, is no longer tied down to a specific broadcaster. Not Sky, not DAZN, not anyone. So that’s the issue of TV sorted. 

On the question of whether both men want the fight, that now seems pretty clear. Usyk was ringside on Saturday night for a reason, and it wasn’t to watch the dull affair between Yvan Mendy and Denys Berinchyk on the undercard. Daniel Dubois’ rollercoaster win over Kevin Lerena was unexpectedly thrilling, mind you.  

But that’s beside the point. The point is that Usyk was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to get in the ring with Fury after the fight and get the (hopefully) impending opponents in front of each other on the world stage. Joe Joyce even managed to get involved.  

Fury hurled a barrage of insults in Usyk's direction as the rivals clashed in north London

Fury hurled a barrage of insults in Usyk's direction as the rivals clashed in north London

Fury hurled a barrage of insults in Usyk’s direction as the rivals clashed in north London

Usyk was entirely uninterested as he hilariously took a phone call during their exchange

Usyk was entirely uninterested as he hilariously took a phone call during their exchange

Usyk was entirely uninterested as he hilariously took a phone call during their exchange

Fury typically hurled a barrage of abuse in Usyk’s direction: ‘Midget’, ‘rabbit’, b****, p****, ‘gappy teeth’, ‘ugly little man’ – they were all equally predictable. And they all had absolutely no impact on Usyk, who smiled away, even taking a phone call during the exchange. 

At his post-fight presser, Fury was more coherent. ‘Let’s talk about Usyk because now we can,’ he said. ‘Before, everyone wanted to ask about Usyk when I had Chisora to beat. I’m ready; I’m willing to take on Usyk next. Whether it’s in Saudi Arabia or back here in the UK.’

Fury’s promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum both insisted the fight would be sealed in the next couple of weeks, while both Usyk and his promoter Alex Krassyuk have made it more than clear it’s the Briton they want next. 

So, that’s the question of whether both men want the fight answered. Yes, Fury could tomorrow insist he’s retired again, or that he’ll only fight for free, or that he’ll only fight for £500million, but I think we’ve all now learned to take any such statements with a pinch of salt, to say the least. 

The final hurdle, other than the finer details in the contract, which shouldn’t be an issue, is whether any mandatory challengers could get in the way. And this is where things get slightly more complicated. 

We already know the WBC belt won’t be an issue; Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr have been ordered to fight, with the winner becoming mandatory. Daniel Dubois, meanwhile, is the WBA (regular) champion and mandatory challenger – but, being with Warren, he certainly wouldn’t get in the way. 

The only remaining stumbling block could be Usyk's IBF belt (left) which could prevent the undisputed fight

The only remaining stumbling block could be Usyk's IBF belt (left) which could prevent the undisputed fight

The only remaining stumbling block could be Usyk’s IBF belt (left) which could prevent the undisputed fight

The IBF have ordered Usyk to face mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in his next fight

The IBF have ordered Usyk to face mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in his next fight

The IBF have ordered Usyk to face mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in his next fight

The one potential issue is the IBF belt – a belt Fury was stripped of in 2015, less than two weeks after winning it against Wladimir Klitschko. Fury was ordered to fight mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov but instead agreed to fight Klitschko again, which in the end never happened.

Now, the IBF have ordered Usyk to fight mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic next, with his co-promoter Kalle Sauerland revealing they have written to the governing body to demand an immediate purse bid for the bout. 

Frankly, particularly after Hrgovic’s woeful performance in his win over Zhilei Zhang in August, no-one wants to see that fight. That includes Warren, Arum and Krassyuk, who all insist the IBF belt won’t be an issue. 

‘At this stage I can anticipate that it will not influence the undisputed anyhow,’ Krassyuk told Sky Sports in November. ‘We expect his next fight to be for the undisputed so most likely it will take place in the Middle East,’ Krassyuk added.

Warren – and his son, George – have also both insisted the IBF belt won’t be an issue. Frank, speaking to iFL TV on Saturday night, said: ‘First of all, if you look at the rotation system, the next one up is the WBA anyway. 

‘Why would anybody want to stop that fight from happening? Why? It’s just moronic. Let’s get this on. We’ve got a chance to do this, and we want to do it, both parties want to do it.’

Fury's team, including Bob Arum (centre) and Frank Warren (right) insist the IBF belt won't be an issue

Fury's team, including Bob Arum (centre) and Frank Warren (right) insist the IBF belt won't be an issue

Fury’s team, including Bob Arum (centre) and Frank Warren (right) insist the IBF belt won’t be an issue

George Warren, meanwhile, insisted they have spoken ‘quite a lot’ to the IBF, and that they are confident all parties are on the same page regarding getting the undisputed fight on. 

Fury has quintessentially insisted he won’t fight for the IBF belt should he take on Usyk, insisting they ‘robbed him’ – but, as we discussed earlier, what he says and what he does are two totally different things. 

More will of course come out on the IBF situation, but the belt would lose global respect if it prevented an undisputed fight to pit Usyk and Hrgovic together, while both parties seem highly confident it won’t be an issue. 

Should that not be the case, however, there is a back-up plan in place, which is for Fury and Joyce to square off instead, with the bout taking place at Wembley Stadium. 

So, it appears the IBF belt is the only issue that remains. Both men want the bout, there are no TV clashes to overcome, and both parties are adamant even the IBF strap will not stop the undisputed bout from happening. 

Roll on 2023, then.  

Denise T. Jones

Denise T. Jones is a passionate sports enthusiast with a knack for capturing the electrifying essence of the sporting world. As a dedicated sports news writer for AccessTV.co, Denise brings her unparalleled love for sports and her adept storytelling skills to deliver captivating and insightful content to readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of various sports disciplines, Denise ensures that her articles provide comprehensive coverage of the latest events, matches, and developments in the sports realm. Whether it's the thrill of the game-winning goal, the drama of a nail-biting finish, or the heartwarming stories of triumph against all odds, Denise encapsulates it all with eloquence and precision. Denise's journey in sports journalism has been marked by her unwavering commitment to accuracy, integrity, and excellence. Her ability to blend statistical analysis with compelling narratives sets her apart as a trusted voice in the industry. From the adrenaline-pumping action on the field to the strategic maneuvers off it, Denise brings every aspect of the sporting world to life through her writing. With a finger on the pulse of the sports scene, Denise T. Jones continues to inspire and inform readers with her dynamic and engaging sports coverage on AccessTV.co.

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