Oleksandr Usyk will take part in a heavyweight fight on May 18 even if Tyson Fury pulls out again, the Ukrainian’s camp have confirmed. Usyk’s promoter, Alex Krassyuk, has suggested that undefeated Olympic medallist Filip Hrgovic could step in for the Gypsy King if plans for an undisputed title fight are pushed back for a third time.
Fury and Usyk were originally due to go head to head on December 23, but the Brit’s unexpectedly turbulent win over UFC star Francis Ngannou in late October saw it moved to February. With the rearranged bout approaching, Fury sustained a nasty cut in sparring last week which required 11 stitches and a prolonged period of recovery.
A third date has now been set, with Usyk’s WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts, as well as Fury’s WBC title set to be up for grabs in Saudi Arabia on May 18. Usyk’s promoter is adamant that a fight will take place regardless of whether the Gypsy King shows up, with Hrgovic the clear front-runner.
“In case he [Fury] withdraws from the fight, a replacement should be foreseen in advance,” Krassyuk explained. “In case, for some reason, he has a cut on his heel or anything, a fight will take place under any circumstances.”
Usyk’s camp toyed with the idea of drafting Hrgovic in to replace Fury and proceeding with this month’s fight date, but the 37-year-old will instead return home to see his newborn daughter, regroup, and come back in May.
Krassyuk and co have therefore already been in contact with Hrgovic’s entourage. “In my heart [a deal to face Hrgovic] was already done and with Oleksandr it was almost done as well, but it’s up to the Saudis to decide because it’s their show.
The 6ft 6in bruiser, born in Zagreb, Croatia, is unbeaten in 17 professional fights, with 14 of those victories coming by way of knockout. His most recent outing was a first-round stoppage of Mark de Mori in December.
Hrgovic – Usyk’s mandatory title challenger – also handed Zhilei Zheng the only defeat of his career before the Chinese heavyweight recovered with two stoppage wins over Joe Joyce.