Tuesday, May 14 

Instead of writing at length about how soulless a place Riyadh is, and how equally soulless is the unfortunately spelled BLVD City – the relatively remote entertainment* centre at which Tuesday’s far-from-grand grand arrivals were held – it seems more appropriate, given the significance of Saturday’s fight, to focus on the fighters’ condition.

BoxingScene could have detailed the fact that the grand arrivals felt at best like the dress rehearsal for something fitting in the build-up to an undisputed heavyweight title fight, questioned why Fury’s co-promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum – for all of their decorated careers – required “entrances”, why the deplorable WBC’s Mauricio Sulaiman again saw fit to gatecrash the occasion, why the Mike Tyson Boxing Club is, of all places, also there, or why there was a ghost town of a theme park next door.

Instead, the two main-event fighters, regardless of the reality that they are fighting at a location that threatens to undermine the attention being paid to a fight capable of defining their remarkable careers, seem worthier of greater attention.

On Monday, BoxingScene noticed how healthy Fury’s skin looked – which for he, not unlike some other professional fighters, reveals so much about his conditioning. He already looked a professional athlete who has long been living cleanly, which couldn’t be said about him in the build-up to his struggles in October against Francis Ngannou. When BoxingScene then spoke to his former trainer Ben Davison on Tuesday, Davison said that he had made the same observation, and revealed that he had questioned whether the cut Fury previously suffered in sparring was a consequence of Fury, in the aftermath of fighting Ngannou, too quickly losing too much weight. 

Warren, similarly, has spoken of Fury “glowing”, but he could just as easily also have been describing the air of confidence the showman Fury is exuding – one that is consistent with that he has showed in the build-up to some of his very finest wins.

Usyk, who “arrived” to Hearts On Fire of Rocky IV fame, looks similarly composed and confident. So much so that when Frazer Clarke was being interviewed, he paused to reach for his phone to record a video of him, and to admire his entrance. Fury arrived later, wearing a hat that wouldn’t look amiss on the cliche of a pimp, and while Usyk was then on his way to be interviewed, he paused in his tracks, stopped and turned to watch and listen to Fury speak – not unlike BoxingScene had observed him doing when Anthony Joshua made his way to the ring for Usyk’s victory over him in London in 2021.

Chants from the Ukrainian’s entourage of “Usyk-Usyk” started when Fury spoke on stage, and while they were met by rival chants of “Fury-Fury” from his opponent’s associates, those chants convincingly failed to drown out those that started first.

For Usyk and Fury, regardless, read “Moses Itauma”. The heavyweight fights under Davison for the first time against Ilja Mezencev on the undercard, and at 19 years old ahead of his ninth professional contest appears every bit as laidback and mature as those preparing to feature in the main event.

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