Frank Warren has rounded on the social media trolls calling Tyson Fury’s unexpectedly close victory over UFC legend Francis Ngannou a robbery, while confirming the Gypsy King’s fight with Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title will definitely happen in the new year back in Riyadh
Fury’s promoter denounced speculation that Usyk would pull out unless the fight with Fury went ahead on the pre-set date of December 23, or that Saudi Arabia would withdraw their financial backing because his man had a bizarre off night not long before the sun rose over the Arabian desert on Sunday morning.
Of the internet cries of ‘fix’ Warren says: ‘What nonsense. Where was the fix when Tyson came within a second or two of being counted out when he was knocked down in the third round? Where was the fix when he had to knuckle down and fight hard to pull out the win he deserved?
‘All this idiocy has come from mostly the same people who were saying before the fight that it was a farce, a sham, a circus for the world heavyweight champion to be taking a crossover fight with Ngannou which he would win so easily it would be over whenever he wanted.
‘We knew that Ngannou would be a tough opponent with massive punching power and the physical strength to take big shots himself.
Fran Warren slammed those calling Tyson Fury’s tight win over Francis Ngannou a robbery
Tyson Fury won his showdown with Francis Ngannou by split decision in Riyadh last week
Ngannou managed to knock Fury down after a run of blistering rounds – but the Gypsy King recovered nicely
We did expect that Tyson would work him out in the first two or three rounds and go on to win but the knock-down changed the fight. So now the people who rubbished it in advance as a joke are saying it was a disgrace and bad for boxing that he was taken to a close decision.
‘As for the so-called robbery, anyone with the slightest idea about how to score a fight knows that Fury won despite a poor performance by his high standards. And more and more people who have watched a TV replay are coming round to that opinion.’
Warren has insisted that Fury takes a time out to recover from a bruising battle and re-schedule Usyk. He says: ‘Had Tyson pulled out an early finish we could have gone for just before Christmas but he can’t go straight back into training camp after this one.’
The revised date for Fury-Usyk is March 10, which is still within the calendar for the Riyadh Season months-long festival of culture, sports and concerts.
Of suggestions that Usyk would pull the plug in frustration, Warren says: ‘If he did that when there is so much money involved they would be taking him to the nut-house. But Oleksandr is no fool.’
Of rumours that the Saudi paymasters will react negatively to Fury’s disappointing performance, the promoter adds: ‘Come on. Between Tyson being off a bit off and having to fall back on his grit and courage and Francis turning out to be a really good boxer despite this being his first boxing match they gave us all a great fight to watch,
‘All the people in the arena loved every minute. A lot of young people cheering like crazy. The fight added to that amazing pre-fight sound and light show. This has to be the most spectacular boxing event ever staged. It doesn’t matter to the Saudis when the Usyk fight takes place, as long as it’s in Riyadh. Not when the Crown Prince (Mohammad bin Salman) is a huge boxing fan himself. No, it will be [in the new year]. Absolutely.’
As to whether Fury, at 35, can recharge his mojo Warren says: ‘One of his biggest problems against Ngannou was that even though Tyson trained hard for this one – oh yes he did – there was no evidence to watch to enable him to prepare for Francis simply because this was his boxing debut.’
‘Who the hell knew he would turn out to be good counter-puncher? Usyk will be an entirely different fight. He is smaller and Tyson is aware of his style as well as being able to use his size.’
Warren is at odds, also, with ‘all those who blather on about boxing being used by the Saudis for so-called sports-washing their image.’ He adds: ‘They call out boxing while choosing to ignore all the other sports which are going to the Kingdom to build their finances. What about Formula 1, golf, tennis, all the other combat sports, the esports?
Warren disagrees with critics who single out boxing for its embrace of Saudi Arabian money
Fury and Usyk are set to put their heavyweight belts on the line in a bout in the new year
‘The surge in interest in all that is bringing more and more kids into playing sport. And then there’s the football. Many of the best players in the world are being recruited to strengthen the Saudi League.
It is getting stronger which means they can encourage the development of their own young players. With that and the speed with which they construct stadiums – unbelievable that they build they the built the one for Tyson at the weekend in only 90 days – they will be ready to put on the World Cup in 2034.
‘But no-one can give boxing credit. They should go take a look at Mike Tyson’s new club in Riyadh and see all the youngsters coming in. And they can’t wait for Tyson’s next big night.’
There are a number of fights in prospect. For example, rematch clauses for both heavyweight champions are in the Fury-Usyk contracts and there is clamour for Fury to go again with Ngannou, who suddenly finds himself a hot boxing property in his own right.