Fury-Usyk negotiations collapse over split of money in rematch
Undisputed heavyweight title fight no go for April 29
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The negotiations for an undisputed heavyweight championship fight between WBC/lineal champion Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the WBO/IBF/WBA belts, collapsed on Wednesday with a frustrated Usyk walking away from talks that had reached a stalemate over the terms of a rematch clause.
The sides have been negotiating the fight for weeks with the plan to stage it April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London with the winner to be crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era and the first since Lennox Lewis outpointed Evander Holyfield in their 1999 rematch to unify all the titles during the three-belt era. It was one of the biggest fights that could be made in boxing.
But even after they finally worked out the money split — Usyk came off his initial demand for 50-50 and accepted the short end of 70-30 as long as Fury also donated $1 million to relief efforts in his war-torn home country of Ukraine — they could not overcome the issue of how the money would be split if the loser invoked his right to an immediate rematch.
In a radio interview Wednesday on TalkSport, the major sports station in the United Kingdom, Usyk promoter Alexander Krassyuk said their side had withdrawn from talks because there was no way to overcome the issues related to the rematch language, which he declined to detail.
“The fight is called off,” Krassyuk said in the interview. “The reason for that is it went too far. There was a feeling that after Usyk accepted 70-30 Tyson Fury started to think that he could put a saddle around his neck and start riding Usyk as much as he can. It’s not right. I mean, Usyk accepted the 70-30 split as a courtesy. He was so willing to make this fight happen. But the fight is not about Tyson Fury. The fight is about the WBC belt that (Usyk wants) in his collection. And if it’s so complicated that Tyson tries to avoid it by putting so many obstacles in front of making the deal then there’s no need to put more effort in it and we just go our way.
“Undisputed stays our highest priority and we will do our best to make to make it happen in the shortest period of time and whoever is the temporary holder of the WBC belt we will try to make it happen.”
The hosts pressed Krassyuk for specifics.
“If I start telling you the list of things (Fury) wanted 15 minutes will not be enough,” Krassyuk said. “There was a list of things he wanted to get in his favor which were absolutely unacceptable, which were completely disrespectful to the unified champion and former undisputed (cruiserweight) champion.”
Asked what Usyk would do next, Krassyuk said, “He will take a short break and then he will comply with his mandatories.”
WBA “regular titlist” Daniel Dubois is supposed to be next in the rotation followed by IBF No. 1 challenge Filip Hrgovic. Neither fight would pay Usyk a fraction of the tens of millions he would earn against Fury even at 30 percent.
“The rematch has become a sideshow. Who cares about the rematch?” — Frank Warren
Soon after Krassyuk was interviewed, Frank Warren, Fury’s co-promoter with Top Rank, also was interviewed on TalkSport.
“No, I’m not confirming it’s off,” he said of the fight before going on to give the Fury side.
Warren said he participated in a conference call on Sunday that also included attorneys for both sides, Krassyuk, Usyk manager Egis Klimas and others. Warren said during that call they agreed on everything other than the rematch terms but that he had finally convinced Fury to include a rematch, which he had sought to get rid of.
“Mostly tickets, travel, who walks first, second, (the order of) who steps on the scales — pretty petty stuff,” Warren said of the matters they worked out. “We got it all out of the way except for one issue and that was the rematch. As you know Tyson’s public statement was we should scrap the rematch.
“Rematch clauses can be very difficult, and Tyson’s been there before when a rematch blocked a fight with him and (Anthony) Joshua when Deontay Wilder took him to court.”
Warren was referring to Wilder winning an arbitration case in 2021 that prevented Fury from facing Joshua in an undisputed title fight and forcing him into a third bout with Wilder due to the rematch language in the contract for their rematch.
“Anyway, I convinced Tyson to take the rematch (with Usyk) and he did,” Warren said in the interview. “Then we got into a situation with how is the rematch money gonna be split and that’s what we’ve been working on. (April 29) was all about for the fans, and certainly for me, about those four belts being on the line to find out who’s the best. That’s what we want to see. The rematch has become a sideshow. Who cares about the rematch?
“The winner walks away with the belts. The rematch won’t even be for all the belts because the belts will get fragmented because the governing bodies are going to order their respective mandatory defenses.”
The issue on the rematch centered on the split of the money if the fight was in the United Kingdom.
A source directly involved in the negotiations told Fight Freaks Unite on Wednesday that the sides had agreed that if a rematch was to take place in the Middle East, where organizers pay substantial site fees, each camp would negotiate their own package with the people putting up the money.
But if England’s Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs), 34, won and Usyk demanded a rematch, and it was in the U.K., where the revenue is much more dependent on the pay-per-view and gate, Fury would get the lion’s share of a 70-30 split.
However, if Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs), 36, won and Fury invoked his rematch right, Usyk wanted 70 percent. Fury was willing to give him 50 percent, the source said.
In the end, talks broke off because of an impasse over 20 percent in the event Usyk won and a rematch took place in the U.K.
The source said the parameters Fury was willing to accept for a rematch in the U.K. were the same that Usyk accepted for his contractually obligated rematch to Joshua when he beat Joshua to take his three belts in September 2021, which was 50-50 for the August 2022 sequel Usyk also won.
Warren did not talk about the specifics of the rematch split during the TalkSport interview but said that “the amount of money (Usyk) will earn — I think Tyson wins the fight — from a rematch is significant money. It’s more money as the loser than he would make as a champion fighting any of the other guys.”
Even had they had made a deal the fight still faced considerable hurdles getting all the logistics ironed out to put on such a massive fight with barely a month to go.
Fury-Usyk photo: Queensberry Promotions
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I can’t say I’m shocked (or even mildly surprised). Everything would have to have gone off perfectly to make April 29 and they rarely do in fights of this magnitude. I don’t begrudge Fury his demands for the planned fight for 4/29. He’s the lineal champ and has that right. Fine. However, trying to claim a 70/30 split in his favor in a rematch after a fight he LOST?? That’s ludicrous. Maybe he felt like Usyk would just fold to get the 4/29 fight done, but I’m glad he didn’t. If Usyk wins the fight (if it ever happens) then he’s the lineal champ and HE gets to call the shots.
I'm amazed that, after all this time negotiating, they've managed to screw up the first chance of having an undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999. I very much doubt there'll be a chance of doing this for a long time as there's mandatories set up for the 3 belts Usyk holds.
Considering Fury is getting the good end of 70:30 for the first fight, the only fair arrangement for the rematch was for whoever won the first fight to get the good end of a 70:30 split. Although #GreedyBelly didn't agree that this was fair of course.
Warren says Fury didn't want a rematch clause, which can only be because he was so confident of winning the first fight. But if that's the case, why does the rematch split for Usyk winning the first fight matter to Fury?
It clearly matters very much to Fury and so he must really think there's a chance that Usyk could win the first fight - in which case it can't be true that he didn't really want a rematch clause.
Unless he had plans to retire if he lost to Usyk and wouldn't try to regain the belts - imo very unlikely.