Fury and Usyk keep it short and simple at final press conference

THE time for talking had stopped but the mind games hadn’t when Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk shared the stage for this evening’s final press conference in Riyadh.

In two days’ time boxing will crown it’s first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield 25 years ago. The two men were in the front row enjoying the visual sights and sounds laid on by the Saudi Arabian hosts where Fury and Usyk will fight on Saturday night.

The fighters had very little to say to one another with most of the talking done by their respective promoters and managers sat at the top table alongside them.

“This is something extra special,” said Fury’s UK promoter Frank Warren.

“It’s got everything required not just to make a special boxing moment but a special moment in sporting history. I’m backing my man because he’s the best heavyweight and proved it time and time again. For me he’s one of the best heavyweights I’ve seen in boxing and I believe he’ll confirm that on Saturday night.”

Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk changed tactics to make a point by quoting a poem from 19th century poet Henry Longfellow called ‘The Rainy Day’.

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
“Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
“Thy fate is the common fate of all;
“Into each life some rain must fall;
“Some days must be dark and dreary.”

Fury’s manager Spencer Brown had nothing to offer or compare but did warn Usyk, saying, “This is your Everest to climb. He’s going to take all your belts from you.”

Egis Klimas, long-time manager to the unified champion admitted the fight would be no “walk in the park” but did have one very specific question for Fury that received no bite from the other side.

“How did he find himself a lineal champion? Everybody calls him lineal but I would like to know how he became lineal. He beat [Wladimir] Klitschko. Klitschko wasn’t lineal champion.”

The history of the heavyweight division was of no interest to anyone else but one man who can claim to know more than most is Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum. The 92-year-old has seen the greats come and go and promoted some of the biggest fights in boxing’s celebrated history.

“In boxing there’s a saying that the most important division is the heavyweight division,” he said.

“When we have the opportunity to have an undisputed heavyweight champion crowned as we will Saturday night it is something very, very significant. Saturday night will be a very important night for boxing. Not only will it be crowning the undisputed heavyweight champion but the two participants in the fight haven’t lost a fight. How rare is that, how great is that. The eyes of the world, not just boxing fans, will be focusing on this fight and believe me it will be a great one.”

The cornermen, Sugar Hill Steward and Sergey Lapin, shared different emotions and thoughts on Saturday’s fight. For Steward his life began in boxing around the Kronk Gym with his Uncle Emanuel who trained Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and predicted years ago that Fury would be the “next superstar, dominant heavyweight”.

“The heavyweight division runs boxing and is everything it stands for. You couldn’t get any better than this. Emanuel, if he was alive, this is where he’d be,” said an emotional Sugar Hill.

Lappin revealed that preparation for Fury began in 2018 and in this fight size does not matter despite the six inch advantage the Brit will have on fight night.

“I would love to wish patience to Tyson,” Lappin said, “It’s going to be the most difficult night of his life.”

And finally, after everyone involved had been thanked many times over from each individual at the top table for the three part presser it came down to Fury and Usyk. The WBC champion isn’t shy of a few words and insults but was low-key for once.

“I’m going to make this short and simple. I want to thank Usyk for turning up and challenging me and that’s about it. I’m ready. Got nothing to say other than I’m ready for a good fight. And if it’s tough or easy – either way – I’ll be ready.”

Usyk, who had penned a poem while the words travelled from both sides, which he initially revealed as “homework” to host Dev Sahni, kept his final remarks short and simple as well.

“I’m happy to be here. I’m excited. I’m grateful this fight happens. Let’s make history. Enough.”

And when all of the talking had concluded, boxing’s traditional face-off was given an unexpected twist when Fury stared straight ahead refusing to turn and look Usyk in the eye. The Ukrainian, however, watched his opponent closely and chose that moment to do one more piece of studying. With that he left the stage allowing Fury to be Fury who flexed and posed for everyone watching.

Source link