RIYADH – Tyson Fury reflected on the tragedy of the death of Sherif Lawal as he prepared for the fight that could define his decorated career.

On Saturday at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he fights Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight title. The significance of his biggest fight was regardless put into perspective by confirmation earlier on Monday that Lawal, aged 29, had died.

The middleweight was four rounds into the six-round contest that represented his professional debut when a right hand from his opponent Malam Varela found his temple and he fell to the canvas. Their previously competitive fight was almost immediately waved over, CPR was administered, a defibrillator was employed, he was taken to the nearby Northwick Park hospital, and pronounced dead with the cause of death a cardiac arrest. 

“God rest his soul, poor old fella,” said Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion.

“You know getting into this sport that it’s a dangerous sport. You go in there and get paid danger money; you’re getting your brains knocked out; you’re not there to tickle each other to death; we’re there to inflict damage on each other by punching each other to the head and body.

“Unfortunately things like this happen now and again. We all know what we’re getting in for.

“It’s like people who do parachute jumping, now and again the parachute doesn’t open and they hit the floor. It doesn’t stop everyone from parachute jumping.”

Fury, at 35 two years younger than Usyk, has previously spoken of his concerns about the potential consequences of him absorbing so much punishment across the course of his three fights with Deontay Wilder, one of the heaviest handed fighters of all time.

“I’ve known the risks my whole life – it is what it is,” he continued. “If it’s my time and it’s God’s will then I’ll die. If not I’ll live.

“I can’t tempt fate.

“In Terminator, Sarah Connor wrote something like ‘Don’t tempt fate’. I can’t decide what happens in the future or worry about it either.”

Read the full article here