The Gypsy King will need a massive improvement against Usyk (Pictures: Getty / FightHubTV)
The Gypsy King was expected to dispatch 37-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou – who had never boxed professionally before – with relative ease in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night but was instead given one of the hardest fights of his career.
Fury was knocked down in the third round and left the ring with a bloodied and bruised face, with many inside the stadium feeling that Ngannou had edged the contest.
While one judge scored it in the Cameroonian’s favour, the other two handed the bout to Fury, but his performance left plenty to be desired and will raise serious question marks going into an undisputed fight with Usyk later this year.
There had been suggestions that the Ukrainian – who holds the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts – wanted more time but he has now confirmed he is ready to fight just before Christmas.
Asked if it was true that he had asked for more time, Usyk told ESPN: ‘No. 23 of December. We have contract.’
Despite looking in disbelief at times in his unexpectedly close fight with Ngannou, Fury was equally keen to finally take on Usyk, telling TNT Sports: ‘It’ll be our next fight, don’t you worry about that.’
Promoter Frank Warren was a little more reluctant to commit to a date though, saying: ‘I don’t think the date will be announced yet. The fight is done. Tyson has a cut there. There’s no point setting a date yet.’
Fury was dropped in the third round in a stunning moment (Picture: Getty)
Usyk, meanwhile, had a cheeky grin on his face when he was asked what he made of Fury’s underwhelming outing in Riyadh on Saturday night and suggested the Gypsy King either underperformed deliberately or drastically underestimated Ngannou.
Asked to rate Fury’s performance, Usyk said: ‘I had an impression that he was playing.
‘I’m not thinking about [whether he was playing possum] but I will be training 100 per cent. But listen, it’s boxing. Maybe it was the element of surprise. Maybe.’
In another interview with Fight Hub TV, Usyk said of Fury’s display: ‘I think it was show. See you 23 December.’
On whether it gives him more confidence to beat Fury, he added: ‘I don’t know, I have no idea.
‘Listen, [Ngannou] is a world champion at MMA, that was a hard punch. Then there’s the element of surprise.
‘Maybe Tyson Fury didn’t take it serious, “Oh it’s an MMA fighter blah blah blah”. I don’t know.
‘Of course I was surprised [by the knockdown]. I watched the knockdown and I said, “Oh, oh, oh Francis! Be careful please!” I was saying, “Tyson! Jab, jab jab, move, jab!” I was saying that!’
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‘I was saying, “Oh, oh, oh Francis! Be careful please!”’