No Ring of Fire in Saudi Arabia, Tyson Fury Cut in Sparring Forces Card Postponement

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

London, UK (February 3rd, 2024)– A cut sustained by Tyson Fury in sparring has forced the postponement of his world heavyweight titular unification match with Oleksandr Usyk, and has also forced the cancellation of the entire Ring of Fire boxing card at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The scheduled undercard of the ‘Ring of Fire’ card has also included the Jai Opetaia versus Mairis Briedis World Boxing Organisation and lineal cruiserweight championship rematch, and the Joe Cordina versus Anthony Cacace International Boxing Federation junior lightweight title fight.

Fury, 34-0-1 with 24 knockouts, ‘The Gypsy King’, Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom, and southpaw Usyk, 21-0 with 14 knockouts, Oxnard, California, by way of Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, still hope to stage the first undisputed heavyweight championship in the current century, and perhaps the biggest bout in terms of the betting line amount wagered in total. With certainty, Fury versus Usyk is the biggest modern bout since Muhammad Ali versus Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman, and Sugar Ray Leonard versus Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Number one contender for Usyk, Filip Hrgovic, 17-0 with 14 knockouts, Zagreb, Croatia, had been considered as a last minute replacement to save the ‘Ring of Fire’ card. Hrgovic did not accept the last minute notice, probably opting for adequate preparation time as his camp can now instead choose to seek to reinforce his mandatory title shot status and force Usyk to fight Hrgovic instead of Fury next.

Turki Alalashikh, chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Authority and Entertainment in Saudi Arabia, offered the following official statement Friday evening. “Riyadh Season announced today the much-anticipated boxing match between World Boxing Council World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and unified World Heavyweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk, named “Ring of Fire”, has been postponed. The decision comes after Fury suffered an unfortunate cut above his right eye during a training (sparring) session in Riyadh. (The Ring of Fire boxing card) Originally scheduled for Saturday, February 17, 2024, as part of the Riyadh Season activities, will be rescheduled for a later date. Tickets (for the Ring of Fire Riyadh card already sold) will be refunded to the (general) public (at this time).”

Given a delay of several months for Fury’s recovery is now inevitable, Usyk may have to fight his mandatory against Hrgovic instead. Therefore, the undercard bouts, including the two title bouts, may have to be shifted to other pro boxing cards coming up in March 2024.

Update: Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk title fight rescheduled for May 18.