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Oleksandr Usyk has claimed that he “loves” Tyson Fury despite the Gypsy King’s prediction that he will knock his opponent out in “four rounds.” The Ukrainian boxer remained calm and heaped praise on Fury while speaking at the WBC convention ahead of the pair’s undisputed heavyweight fight – although he did have time for a cheeky dig at his English opponent.
The two heavyweight icons are set to touch gloves early next year following lengthy negotiations. The historic fight will see the winner become the undisputed heavyweight champion – a feat last achieved by Lennox Lewis in 1999.
The pair will compete for all four of boxing’s major sanctioning bodies belts up for grabs – WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO. Fury holds the WBC strap while Usyk boasts the IBF, WBO and WBA Super world heavyweight championships.
With the highly anticipated fight looming, Usyk made an appearance at the WBC convention on Tuesday. The 36-year-old was surprised by a brief message from Fury who continued the pair’s war of words in a short clip.
“Usyk, get ready,” Fury said in a video projected onto a large screen. “I’ll smash you into pieces sucker, four rounds.”
When asked for his response to the video, Usyk calmly replied: “I love my opponent Tyson Fury. He’s a great guy, I love Tyson.
Alluding to Fury’s absence at the convention, he added: “Hey Tyson, where are you?”
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Despite Fury’s bold knockout prediciton not everyone is in agreement that the fight will be so one sided. Former world champion Evander Holyfield believes that the bout will be closesly contested, and that Usyk has a good chance of giving Tyson the first defeat of his professional career.
“It should be a great fight and hand speed will be crucial,” Holyfield told the WBC. “Who can get off the most punches. Usyk has got a lot going for him and he is left handed.
“Fury has done so well so many times and styles make fights. When a person who fights a big man, is quicker and can take big shots you can win. Yet if you get hit it may be over. Life is about not quitting.
“I truly believe Usyk has that no quit mentality, so he is going to be in there. A fine balance for this one.
“For me and my career, it was a phase of life. During it I did my very best and now that it’s over, I’m kind of glad it’s over. During it, you have to love winning and be willing to go through what others won’t, because each and every time you go in the ring you think about what you have got to do to get that far. People who get there don’t quit!”
Both fighters will go into the bout with an undefeated professional record. Usyk has fought 21 times and winning 14 via knockout, while Tyson has recorded 34 wins with 24 knockouts and one draw – against Deontay Wilder.
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