Oleksandr Usyk will be sure of Tyson Fury fight when he hears 'the sound of a bell'

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — The heavyweight title fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury now appears likely to be held in February.

Although Usyk isn't convinced.

“I’m not 100% sure. I will be sure when I’m the ring,” Usyk said. “I will stand in one corner, Tyson Fury will stand in the opposite corner, between us a referee in a white shirt, and only when I hear the sound of a bell — that’s when I’ll understand that yes, the game is on.”

The Ukrainian has his doubts because the fight had been planned for Dec. 23 in Saudi Arabia. That was before Fury got knocked down and nearly defeated by Francis Ngannou, an MMA fighter making his boxing debut.

Fury's British promoter, Frank Warren, then called the December date “unlikely" for the first bout this century to unify all of the major heavyweight boxing titles.

Usyk holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts and Fury has the WBC version of the heavyweight title.

The last fight to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion was in 1999, when Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield.

“I want this to work out, I want this fight to happen,” the 36-year-old Usyk said from his training camp in Valencia. “The fact that it is postponed is no problem to me. I’m satisfied.”

Usyk, whose country was invaded by Russia in February 2022, said he's “not motivated by money.”

“I don’t care about material things. I care for the path I follow,” he said.

Usyk (21-0) is coming off a defense against Daniel Dubois in Poland in August. The Ukrainian won his heavyweight titles off Anthony Joshua in 2021 and defended them in a rematch in Saudi Arabia the following year.

Earlier talks for a Fury-Usyk fight fell apart in March, with Warren blaming a disagreement over terms for a rematch. Usyk had accepted Fury’s demand for a 70-30 split of earnings in the British fighter’s favor but his promoter Alex Krassyuk accused Fury of putting further obstacles in the way of a deal.

Usyk isn't worried about potential insults coming from the 35-year-old Fury (34-0-1). Usyk noted the gap between his front teeth and that his last name means “little mustache” in Ukrainian.

“I heard so many insults about myself, that at some point I started flipping them over and making them my achievements,” he said.

There will be no hard feelings regardless, he added.

“I love this incredible person," he said. "As a human being I feel no hostility towards him. I simply love people, including Tyson Fury.”

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