Exclusive: Oleksandr Usyk sends Tyson Fury 'David vs Goliath' warning for undisputed fight

Exclusive: Oleksandr Usyk sends Tyson Fury 'David vs Goliath' warning for undisputed fight

Oleksandr Usyk has a remarkable ability to block out the noise. After two scheduled fights against Tyson Fury were postponed, he has had to.

The clash between the two camps at the start of this week was the latest in what he sees as his rival’s histrionics, ending with Fury’s father, John, bleeding after a head-butt.

As the week continues, Usyk is all too aware the barbs will likely keep coming, such as Fury previously suggesting he was so confident of winning the pair’s heavyweight unification fight that he could do so after 15 pints — Peroni beers, to be more specific.

Nonplussed by the bravado, Usyk, speaking from his training camp in Valencia before jetting off to Saudi Arabia, said: “I would advise him to do 15 rounds of sparring instead of 15 pints.

“Look, I have no idea what Tyson Fury is saying, and I’m not interested at all. He repeats the same things again and again, and the fight is postponed again and again, not on my initiative. Let him finally get into the ring and try to really show something.”

Fury-Usyk has been a long time in coming, first scheduled before Christmas and then at the end of February before Fury suffered a nasty gash above his eye.

Now set for Saturday —barring any late hiccups — the Ukrainian insists he is ready to win, despite giving away half a foot in height and seven inches in reach.

Speaking early last month, Fury had talked down his former cruiserweight opponent’s credentials, saying: “When the cruiserweights step up to the big boys, they usually get found wanting.”

In response, Usyk said: “I already recalled the biblical story of David and Goliath at a press conference in London. There was one big man and one small one, and the big one lost because he underestimated his opponent.

Head to head: Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will compete to become undisputed heavyweight champion (AFP via Getty Images)
Head to head: Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will compete to become undisputed heavyweight champion (AFP via Getty Images)

“So, I can only repeat to Tyson the words of David to Goliath, ‘This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down’.”

Religion is at the heart of everything Usyk does, having become an Orthodox Christian after speaking to a hospital chaplain while in a ward as a child.

He is quick to turn to his religious beliefs in the aftermaths of his wins — like Fury, he is undefeated in his professional career — and the expression “God willing” is littered through this particular conversation.

As well as extolling his faith with each fight, he continues to shine a spotlight on Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Of Saturday’s fight in Riyadh, he said: “I will use all my fame to convince the world community to help my country repel Russian military aggression.”

Usyk has fought just once since his impressive back-to-back victories over Anthony Joshua, and was perhaps lucky to come through the fight against Daniel Dubois in August following a controversial low-blow call against the Briton.

Meanwhile, Fury was more troubled by MMA fighter Francis Ngannou on his competitive boxing debut than he should have been.

Rather than stick the knife in, Usyk said: “Fury has fallen and gotten back up many times over his long career and is a boxer who can surprise in both positive and negative ways.

“But I’m now making sure I’m at my peak on May 18. I’m not worried about Fury’s condition, I’m focused on my own shape so I can enter the ring and do my best.

“I respect Fury as a fighter. He wouldn’t be an undefeated heavyweight if he wasn’t good. I respect his tenacity and ability to go all the way, getting back up even after hard knocks, both in and out of the ring.

“This is what makes our fight so unique. Two undefeated fighters will compete in the ring, and you will also see the answer to the question about my winning strategy in the ring.”

My biggest problem has been finding enough sparring partners to match Fury’s size

Oleksandr Usyk

And yet there is frustration it has taken this long to get to actual fight night, what has in effect felt like a six-month training camp, albeit in three blocks.

Usyk pays homage to the family it has kept him away from — there are even reports he missed the birth of his daughter in the lead-up to the previous February date.

“This is the third training camp in which I am preparing to fight Tyson Fury,” he said. “The first began in September last year, because the fight was originally planned for December 23.

“Then the fight was postponed to February 17, and then again to May 18, so we can say that we have tripled the work.

“I averaged 250 rounds of sparring at each of these camps. The big problem was finding enough suitable sparring partners to match Fury’s size.”

His cause in that has been helped by the Ready to Fight app he has launched and through which he accessed dozens of fighters to join him in his camp.

The brainchild of Usyk and his doctor, Sergey Lapin, because of a dearth of fighters in their list of contacts, he said it was largely because “boxing was stuck in the last century”.

“You have to call dozens, if not hundreds, of people around the world just to find a sparring partner,” he said.

“In boxing, you can’t achieve anything without the right team, which includes promoters, managers, coaches, doctors, etc. Even for a champion, finding the right people can be a challenge.

“However, if you’re a beginner and you want to spar, develop, and build a career, but lack connections or influential contacts in your phone book, you’ll encounter a problem.

Unfazed: Unbeaten Usyk insists he is not bothered by the repeated jibes from the Fury camp (Getty Images)
Unfazed: Unbeaten Usyk insists he is not bothered by the repeated jibes from the Fury camp (Getty Images)

“Ready To Fight was created with such boxers in mind. It’s a platform that enables everyone in the boxing industry to easily connect and collaborate.”

Amid the lead-up to Saturday’s fight, there has been talk of an all-British heavyweight encounter between Fury and Joshua in London. Usyk has understandably heard the rumour but is quick to put it to one side.

“There’s a lot of talk, a lot of hints,” he said. “I don’t think about it at all, I’m not interested. And, anyway, after I beat Fury, he can fight whoever he wants. I don’t need additional motivation for this.”