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Bob Arum claims Tyson Fury was 'not ready to fight ANYBODY' when he narrowly escaped shock defeat by Francis Ngannou… but insists the Gypsy King will return to his best in undisputed clash with 'tremendous' Oleksandr Usyk

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Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum believes Tyson Fury‘s lack of preparation almost cost him dearly against Francis Ngannou, but is adamant that fans will see a very different Fury when he faces Oleksandr Usyk in May.

Fury and Usyk are due to meet in less than two months for the right to be called the undisputed heavyweight champion, but those plans nearly went up in smoke when the Gypsy King took on Ngannou last October.

Entering the ring against a boxing novice in the shape of former UFC champion Ngannou, Fury was expected to cruise to victory to set up a showdown with Usyk.

But Fury quickly found himself in deep waters after being knocked down in the third round, and he only narrowly escaped a disastrous defeat as he secured a controversial win via split decision.

Fury was criticised for looking out of shape in the build-up to the Ngannou bout, and Arum has claimed the fight was much closer than anticipated due to the Brit taking his eye off the ball.

Tyson Fury was floored by Francis Ngannou when the pair met in Saudi Arabia in October

Tyson Fury was floored by Francis Ngannou when the pair met in Saudi Arabia in October

Fury got back up to win a split decision, but he was criticised for looking out of shape before the fight

Fury got back up to win a split decision, but he was criticised for looking out of shape before the fight

His promoter, Bob Arum, believes Fury was in no condition to fight anyone that night

His promoter, Bob Arum, believes Fury was in no condition to fight anyone that night

Arum is adamant that Fury will take things far more seriously against Oleksandr Usyk

Arum is adamant that Fury will take things far more seriously against Oleksandr Usyk

However, he explained why the WBC champion will not make the same mistake again when he returns to Saudi Arabia later this year.

Reflecting on why Ngannou was able to have so much success in Riyadh against Fury, Arum told Mail Sport: ‘I look at his performance with Fury as really Fury being not ready to fight anybody that night, but Ngannou did what he had to do to make it competitive.

Discussing his journey with Fury since becoming his promoter, Arum continued: ‘After his first fight with Wilder which we didn’t promote, we promoted a fight with Wallin and Schwarz, and, to be honest, Fury looked sort of ordinary. He looked OK but not great. 

‘Then when he came to fight Wilder again when he really got himself in shape mentally and physically, he was superb in both of those fights, knocking Wilder out in both fights. And then because there’s been so much talk and controversy when he fought Dillian Whyte at Wembley, he also looked terrific. 

‘Not so much for Chisora because that wasn’t more than a stay-busy fight, and then when he fought Ngannou, he looked ordinary. Let’s be honest about it. 

‘But again, that seems to be the pattern with Fury, and he knows how tough a fight Usyk is. Usyk is a tremendous athlete, very determined, has never lost a fight. So I really believe we’ll see the best of Tyson Fury on May 18.’

A win for Fury in May could set up a mouthwatering all-British dust-up with Anthony Joshua.

Joshua has won his last four fights since successive defeats by Usyk, and looked particularly impressive in his last two victories against Otto Wallin and Ngannou.

Anthony Joshua dispatched Ngannou inside two rounds earlier this month in Riyadh

Anthony Joshua dispatched Ngannou inside two rounds earlier this month in Riyadh

Arum thinks Joshua has regained his confidence and will now be a match for anybody, but is not allowing himself to look ahead to a fight between Fury and Joshua just yet

Arum thinks Joshua has regained his confidence and will now be a match for anybody, but is not allowing himself to look ahead to a fight between Fury and Joshua just yet

After Ngannou pushed Fury all the way, Joshua demolished the MMA star inside two rounds earlier this month, and Arum feels the two-time world champion has rediscovered his mojo.

The 92-year-old promoter admitted that a long-awaited fight between Fury and Joshua could come next – despite the former having a rematch clause with Usyk – but insisted he is only focusing on Fury’s bout with the Ukrainian for now.

‘I think the knock on Joshua has been that he’d lost his confidence,’ Arum said. ‘If a fight loses his confidence, he’s very diminished. 

‘Now Joshua seems to be regaining his confidence, and if that continues Joshua will be a very dangerous fighter that could compete with anybody.

Looking ahead to how the heavyweight scene could map out in the aftermath of Fury vs Usyk, Arum added: ‘What happens if Fury-Usyk turns out to be a classic? A fight that is so exciting and so thrilling that the public wants to see it again. Then that would certainly trump a Joshua fight, and contractually, it’s a fight that has to happen. 

‘Now, what happens if it’s a one-sided fight and Fury wins the fight? Then maybe everybody can sit down with His Excellency Turki Alalshikh and work out some arrangement go right to Fury-Joshua. 

‘If Usyk wins the fight, I don’t think there would be that much demand for an Usyk-Joshua fight because after all they fought twice and Usyk beat him twice. So, one fight at a time, that’s my motto.’

While the top three heavyweights appear to be set in stone for now, the chasing pack is less clear.

Ngannou has lost his first two boxing matches, but in very different fashion, having nearly beaten Fury before being dismantled by Joshua.

Joshua urged Ngannou to continue in boxing in the immediate aftermath of beating him

Joshua urged Ngannou to continue in boxing in the immediate aftermath of beating him

Arum agrees that Ngannou can still be a threat in the heavyweight division if he dedicates himself to boxing

Arum agrees that Ngannou can still be a threat in the heavyweight division if he dedicates himself to boxing

In the immediate aftermath of his comprehensive win over Ngannou, Joshua urged the Cameroonian-born to continue pursuing a career in boxing rather than returning to MMA, and Arum agrees that he could still have a future in the sport.

‘He got knocked out by Joshua, which because of the experience and skill level is not surprising,’ Arum said.

‘Now Ngannou has to go back and if he wishes to learn how to be a real fighter with sparring and training and so forth, then I think he could be very competitive in the heavyweight division. 

‘But whether he stays in boxing or goes back to MMA, that’s up to him.’