Fury vs. Usyk: May 18th is the new date. GETTY IMAGES

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk's scheduled fight in Saudi Arabia on 17 February will now take place on 18 May after Fury suffered a deep cut to one of his eyes during training. Saudi promoters and authorities are now imposing compensation clauses if either boxer pulls out.

The long-awaited heavyweight unification bout between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk has been rescheduled for May 18 in Saudi Arabia. Promoters announced the change on Saturday after Fury suffered a cut to his eye in training that required 11 stitches. They acted quickly to find a new date for one of the most eagerly anticipated fights in boxing. Fury was due to face Usyk for the undisputed world title on 17 February in Riyadh. 

The world heavyweight titles could be unified for the first time since 1999, when England's Lenox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield. The fight in Riyadh was the highlight, with both boxers' titles on the line, but... That's boxing for you. 

Alarm bells were ringing. Both fighters were in the final stages of preparation with just two weeks to go before the big day. Last Saturday, a statement from Queensbury Promotions on X (Twitter) announced the new date: three more months to wait: "Undisputed heavyweight championship between @Tyson_Fury and @usykaa rescheduled for May 18 in Riyadh".

With preparations so far advanced, there was even speculation that Usyk might have accepted the challenge to fight another boxer. This would have ruined the most eagerly awaited duel. The quick work of the organisers and promoters paid off. The fight will take place on 18 May. The age of Fury - 35 - and Usyk - 37 - is also an advantage, but the fight shouldn't be delayed much longer as they are at a crucial stage in their careers.

Fury and Usyk will finally meet on 18 May 2024. GETTY IMAGES
Fury and Usyk will finally meet on 18 May 2024. GETTY IMAGES

Fury lamented the incident, which coincided with a scheduled sparring session, according to several reports. Usyk, for his part, was reluctant to comment, but it is logical that Fury's injury is a setback for him, coming as it does after one of the most rigorous and demanding preparations of his sporting career. It also raises the possibility of him fighting another boxer. This is something that is ruled out by contract. 

To avoid any suspicion or controversy, the Saudi authorities were also brought to the negotiating table and a final agreement was reached in which Usyk agreed not to fight anyone until Fury had recovered. A number of conditions and obligations were also put in place to prevent either fighter from pulling out of the May 18th fight. They both stand to lose a lot of money if they pull out of the fight that will unify the heavyweight titles in world boxing.

Saudi Arabia had sponsored the fight. It is logical that they would want to protect themselves against any further withdrawals or cancellations. In addition, the Saudi authorities and the promoters of the event want to have a Plan B in case the much-anticipated event falls through.

That's where other fighters like Anthony Joshua come in, who has his appeal and could also be a contender for the throne, although in that context we'll have to wait and see how the British boxer fares against Francis Ngannou, the former UFC world champion, in a fight scheduled for 8 March 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Organisers have said that tickets will be refunded to those who have already purchased them.

Usyk currently holds the WBO, WBA and IBF titles. Fury is the WBC champion. Fury has won 34 fights with one draw. He turned professional in 2008. His most recent fight was a controversial victory over Francis Ngannou in October of last year. 

The Cameroonian will have a new opportunity to shine and earn his place in boxing after his stint in mixed martial arts. He will face another Briton, Anthony Joshua, on 8 March 2024, also in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.