Team Fury antics will not destabilise my quest, states defiant Usyk

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Sportem
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By Declan Taylor


OLEKSANDR USYK has warned Team Fury that no amount of fight week antics will ‘destabilise’ his quest to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Monday’s first fight week event was marred by violence as John Fury, father of Tyson, headbutted a smaller member of Usyk’s team, Stanislav Stepchuk, as the two fighters conducted a number of interviews at the Hilton in central Riyadh.

Fury Sr, who was left cut and bleeding from the head, apologised for the altercation while Stepchuk walked away largely unscathed.

Usyk later sat down for his media roundtable with the British press and smiled when the incident was brought up. As he spoke, his team stood around and he gestured towards them when he evaluated what had happened in the lobby.

“We are professional athletes, not street fighters and this is a big event for our people, the UK and Ukraine,” Usyk said.

“My team is very good at wanting to fight, not boxing, street fighting, shooting, knives, wrestling. But I said ‘hey, hey guys, get back’. We had to behave properly.”

“The situation doesn’t matter to me, it’s just more motivation for my team. If they want to destabilise my team, it’s not possible. Because I don’t just have professional coaches and trainers, I have professional soldiers.”

On Stepchuk, who became an unlikely protagonist in the story of the day, Usyk added: “My friend did not bleed because he is a powerful guy.

“He is a street guy. Did you see the video, he was like a Pitbull, ruff! I said ‘stop!’ and they said OK. He’s only my friend, it’s a secret who the soldiers are in my team.

“Of course it’s disappointing that it happened at an event like this, because it is about discipline. I am not disappointed by my team, they are disappointed because I pulled them back and stopped them from fighting.

“They wanted to go, they were looking over at me waiting for the signal to go. They were waiting for the thumbs up but I gave them the thumbs down. ‘Back, back please,” I said. And they were not happy.”

Usyk, who faces Fury in the first undisputed heavyweight fight since 1999 and the first ever with the four major belts on the line, also declared that victory at the Kingdom Arena will still not be enough to trump his greatest boxing triumph.

“My gold medal will always be better than undisputed,” says Usyk, who became 91kg champion at London 2012.

“Everyone who does sport – any sport, boxing, judo karate – they all dream of the Olympic games.“I know men with three world championships medals but no Olympic gold – only bronze. I did two Olympics and only got one medal.“It takes four years, my final opponent Clemente Russo had done four Olympics, still no gold medal, in 16 years.

“The Olympics takes four years but a world title belt is easy, you can get one in six months, or a year. But professional boxing is a business for some people.

“For me it is sport but for a lot of people it is a business, it’s money, belts, fame.

For me, first, it is a sport.”

Even so, Usyk already has a plan for the four belts should he leave Saudi Arabia with them in the hold.

“I will take them back home,” he adds. “I have four belts coming for four children, two for my sons and two for my daughters, one each.”

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