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Tyson Fury ‘having fun’ as ‘fight of the century’ vs. Usyk nears

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Tyson Fury danced and sang along to some of his favorite hits during a light workout Wednesday evening, three days out from his undisputed heavyweight championship clash with Oleksandr Usyk.

England’s Fury, 35, wrapped his hands to the tune of AC/DC’s anthem “You Shook Me All Night Long.” He glided around the ring with trainer SugarHill Steward and pumped his right fist to the beat of The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside.”

“I’m having fun. I always do, don’t I?” Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) told ESPN following his 15-minute workout at the open-air entertainment hub Boulevard City. “All these fight weeks I enjoy.”

But Saturday’s fight is a bit more special. The winner will be crowned boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight champion since November 1999, when Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in a rematch.

Lewis, who will be ringside Saturday, and Holyfield, are two all-time greats, and so are Fury and Usyk. It’s rare for any heavyweight to be recognized as one of the pound-for-pound best in the world. Usyk is No. 3 on ESPN’s list, and Fury is No. 10.

“It’s the fight of the century,” said Fury, who suffered a cut in sparring that postponed this bout from its original Feb. 17 date. “[An undisputed heavyweight championship fight] has never happened this century before, and we’re looking forward to putting on a fantastic show.”

Fury’s resume features a classic trilogy with Deontay Wilder that includes two wins and one draw, with the final bout named ESPN’s Fight of the Year and KO of the Year in 2021. Fury has been boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion since he upset Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.

Now, Fury will meet another Ukrainian in Usyk, who like Holyfield, is a former undisputed cruiserweight champion who went on to win the unified heavyweight championship. Usyk, 37, did so by defeating Anthony Joshua in a pair of bouts, spoiling plans for a Fury-Joshua bout that would have represented the biggest fight in U.K. history.

Fury still hopes to meet Joshua next year but will first look toward a contracted rematch with Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) later this year. Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, told ESPN last month the return bout is slated for Oct. 12 or 13. After that, if Fury wins at least one of the two bouts, there are plans for a matchup with Joshua next year.

Joshua, the former unified champion, scored a second-round KO of former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in March. Fury was floored by Ngannou in October in a shocking performance, struggling to win a split decision against a man making his boxing debut.

Fury appeared well out of shape for that non-title bout, but on Wednesday, he seemed to be far more fit, pumping his jab while he bounced on his toes.

“I’m always focused, up for a fight,” Fury said, “and it’s the reason I’ve been undefeated in 16 years.”

But he has never faced a fighter quite like Usyk, one with a superb southpaw jab, excellent footwork and the ring acumen to match Fury. Usyk could concede as much as 40 pounds on fight night. However, he has proven in four heavyweight bouts that he can overcome his lack of size with superior boxing ability.

Fury is the slight favorite at -120, according to ESPN BET, while Usyk is at even odds. If Fury can end Usyk’s undefeated run and grab his three titles, too, he should cement himself as the best heavyweight of his era.

“I’m not really interested in all that,” Fury said as he walked off from the ring. “[It will] establish me as a mega, uber-rich heavyweight who can feed his family and give them whatever they want for breakfast, dinner and tea.”

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