John Fury warns Tyson Fury ‘needs more time’ to prepare for Oleksandr Usyk fight after revealing major concerns over his fitness and tactics
John Fury insists 'The Gypsy King' needs 'more time' to prepare for Usyk and their historic undisputed fight next year.
John Fury has warned there has been a worrying decline in Tyson Fury, fearing major changes are needed in camp ahead of his fight against Oleksandr Usyk.
WBC champion Fury and IBF, WBO and WBA king Usyk will finally meet on 17 February in Saudi Arabia to crown heavyweight boxing’s first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Their historic bout was originally scheduled to take place on 23 December. But a bruising night at the office for Fury against Francis Ngannou changed those plans. ‘The Gypsy King’ clinched a narrow split decision win but endured a difficult night against the former UFC heavyweight champion, dropped in the third round in what was his worst performance in a number of years.
Among Fury’s critics from that night is his father John, who fears the 17 February date may come too soon for his son with more time needed to get him back to his physical best.
Fury Snr believes there has been a noticeable decline in ‘strength, power and physical condition’ in each of Fury’s last three fights, coming against Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora last year and October’s meeting with Ngannou, and says he was ‘shocked’ by his son’s preparation levels after flying into Saudi last month.
‘The 17th February is the date they have got to work towards. But in my opinion, Tyson needs a bit more time to get his conditioning right and his weight right,’ Fury Snr told Metro.co.uk via Free Bets UK. ‘For me it looked like he had lost 20lbs of muscle last time. Something was wrong.
‘For my money, his last three fights, I have seen a bit of decline. Not a decline in ability but a decline in strength, power and physical condition. I don’t know what they are doing up there, you have to address it. He didn’t look himself out in Saudi.
‘He didn’t look right, everything had changed about him, his demeanour, his body. I was puzzled. He said he had been training but there is training and there is training. If you’re going at your own pace no one is going to tell you otherwise, no one is going to offend you or kick you up the backside.
‘No one can teach Tyson how to box, or teach him more than he knows. All they can do is put some muscle on there and make his body rock solid. For my money he looked fat-thin, he should have been better, a bit heavier with a lot more muscle. Tyson is a mammoth fella. He needs to power up in the body department and the only way you do that is a proper course and they take time and we don’t have the time.’
John Fury has previously hit out at Tyson’s trainer SugarHill Steward, who has been the man in his corner since his explosive title-winning win over Deontay Wilder in February 2021.
The WBC champion comfortably dealt with Whyte and Chisora last year before his scare against Ngannou but against Usyk, the fleet-footed former cruiserweight king, he faces a very different sort of challenge.
In addition to those concerns over Tyson’s conditioning, John Fury has not been convinced by the tactical approach in recent fights, believing urgent adjustments are also needed in that department. If those are not carried out, Usyk and his camp will be ‘licking their lips’ ahead of their historic fight next year.
‘He still won the fight [against Ngannou] because that is what he does best. But for my money, the tactics were all wrong too,’ Fury Snr continued.
‘You don’t try meet an express train head on, do you? He would have been better boxing off the back foot, slipping and sliding. Against the old Tyson, Ngannou wouldn’t have landed a glove on him.
‘They keep missing this in the corner. They aren’t looking at what the other man is doing. He needs to change it up. All of a sudden, they think one tactic works for all fighters but it isn’t like that.
‘The style I am seeing is no good, it won’t be any use boxing Usyk like that, just stood in front of him. You have to be clever and agile, as much as he [Usyk] is. But unless you are trained to do that, what can you say?
‘Usyk is nowhere near as big and powerful as Ngannou who is one of the hardest punchers in the world. But he is a skilful heavyweight and they need to practice for that. The style Tyson has right now, he wouldn’t have beaten Wladmir Klitschko [Fury’s maiden world title victory in 2015] with that.
‘He is not a man who just stands in front of you and puts your lights out. That’s not his job, his job is to be clever, box well, make them miss and make them pay. That is his best attribute. But now they have changed that all around.
‘He is taking more punches now than he has taken in his whole career and that could have shortened his career. That is the worry we have got here. Tyson is a remarkable man but sometimes he needs to listen to a bit of common sense.
‘Usyk is a tricky man and you have to be on your best to beat him and the style he has got now, it won’t do the trick. He has got it in his head he can knock everyone spark out. But no fighter in the world can keep taking big shots. He can’t keep taking them because all of a sudden a jab can sit you down. You have to be clever and the way he beats Usyk is more brain than brawn.’
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