Heavyweight rivals Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk went face-to-face on Sunday night in New York with the Ukrainian making it clear afterwards that he wants to fight the Gypsy King next, not Anthony Joshua.
Both boxers were at Madison Square Garden to watch Vasiliy Lomachenko’s dominant points win over Richard Commey, with the fight coinciding with legendary promoter Bob Arum’s birthday.
Ukrainian superstar Usyk regularly attends compatriot Lomachenko’s fights, while Fury was a surprise guest in the Big Apple and appeared in the ring to serenade Arum, who has just turned 90.
After exchanging pleasantries with his promoter and taking some photos, Fury spotted Usyk lurking ringside and the two embraced before sharing a few words, with the Brit seeming to be slightly surprised by the height of his rival.
Former cruiserweight Usyk was able to go head-to-head with 6 ft 9 Fury, who suggested he was standing on his toes, and the lineal champ then leaned in to whisper something in his ear before they posed for a photo with Arum.
Asked by ringside reporters what he said to Usyk, Fury replied in typically blunt fashion: ‘Usyk can suck my balls!’
While the boxing world would love to see the two fighters face off in an undisputed bout, they are currently obliged to take on other fights.
Usyk has a contractual agreement to rematch Anthony Joshua, who he stunned at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this year, while Fury is set to take on WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte.
But the Ukrainian – who holds the WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts – would much rather face off against Fury in a unification bout.
Asked who he would rather fight out of Joshua and Fury, Usyk told FightHype on Sunday night: ‘It all depends how it’s going to turn out. It’s not up to me at this point.’
Probed further on whether he wants Joshua to step-aside, Usyk added: ‘Yes of course. It’s like one step less if I could fight for undisputed title now.’
There were briefly suggestions that AJ might be willing give way on the condition he fought the winner of the undisputed fight, but promoter Eddie Hearn says that will not happen following the Whyte ruling.
Speaking to Betfred, he explained: ’ve been involved in a few conversations with a couple of people who’ve discussed a concept where AJ has a comeback fight, Fury and Usyk fight and then AJ fights the winner.
‘But we forgot the Dillian Whyte part of that jigsaw. Now the Fury versus Whyte fight has been ordered then that concept has evaporated, which is good as I didn’t want to have that conversation with AJ.’