Frank Warren Demands ‘Very Strong’ Referee For Tyson Fury V Oleksandr Usyk

April 13, 2024
2 months
Frank Warren with Tyson Fury at a press conference

Promoter Frank Warren has demanded that a “very strong” referee be appointed for next month’s undisputed heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

History will be made on May 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when Fury and Usyk duel to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era. Given the enormous stakes, Warren insists that the man officiating proceedings in the middle of the ring must be able to handle the occasion.

The Queensbury Promotions boss, who co-promotes Fury, was prompted to make his referee-related demands following his last experience with an Usyk fight. That was in August last year when another Warren fighter, Daniel Dubois, took on Usyk in Poland.

Dubois appeared to have floored Usyk with a heavy body punch but it was later ruled a low blow. The referee, Luis Pabon, gave Usyk plenty of time to recover and the Ukrainian eventually secured a ninth-round knockout to defend his IBF, WBA, and WBO world titles for a second time.

Warren Slams ‘Joke’ Referee

“We want to get all these things done. We want no controversy. We want somebody in there who everybody respects and will be very, very strong,” Warren told Sky Sports.

“The last referee was just a joke. Completely ridiculous the whole thing. Whether it was a low blow or not, the time he gave him and then, when he wanted to fight, he said ‘no, take more time out’.”

The fight between Fury and Usyk has already been postponed twice. It was originally scheduled for December 23, only for it to be pushed back after Fury endured a tougher-than-expected showdown with MMA star Francis Ngannou last October. Competing in his first professional boxing bout, Ngannou sent the WBC champion to the canvas in the third round and took Fury to a split decision.

Rearranged for February 17, Fury then sustained a cut above the eye in sparring, forcing the event to be moved again to May 18. It led various figures within boxing to doubt Fury’s eagerness to face Usyk; the Ukrainian’s manager even urged the ‘Gypsy King’ to retire and stop wasting everyone’s time.

A slimmed-down and fired-up Fury appeared at a press conference in his hometown of Morcombe earlier this week where he expressed his supreme confidence of victory.

Fury Will ‘Exploit’ Usyk Weakness

Warren is similarly confident that his fighter will emerge victorious in Riyadh and believes there are weaknesses in Usyk that Fury can and will exploit.

“One thing about Tyson, if he senses a crack or sees any weakness, he’s the biggest exploiter of it and that’s why it’s going to be such an exciting fight,” he said.

“His Achilles’ heel, as I’ve said, and I’m surprised the so-called experts never picked up on it, has always been his body. Daniel Dubois, that’s what he was trained for, to go and exploit that and he nearly pulled it off. I think [Fury] will stop him but I think it going to be a real exciting fight while it lasts.”

However, Fury has his own vulnerabilities, namely the soft skin above his eye which has now been opened up several times both in fights and training. Warren admitted there is concern that Usyk will target Fury’s eye by using some rough tactics, but he is convinced he will deal with it.

“I’m sure they’re going to use every trick in the book and that’s boxing isn’t it?” Warren said. “That’s what’s going to happen and Tyson’s a seasoned pro, a seasoned warrior and he knows what he’s got to do.”