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Deontay Wilder ‘ready’ to replace Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk

Boxing star Deontay Wilder

Former heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder says he is “ready” to step in if Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk’s undisputed title fight falls through.

A bout between WBC champion Fury and WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring titlist Usyk was postponed for a third time since 2023 on Friday because of a cut the Briton has sustained.

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The fight in Saudi Arabia, which had been scheduled for February 17, was swiftly rearranged for May 18.

“I love Saudi and they definitely love me out there,” said Wilder, who suffered a surprise defeat on points to Joseph Parker on the Day of Reckoning card in Riyadh on December 23, speaking to Esnews.

“No matter how much training I’ve done, whether I’m three weeks in or eight weeks in, it doesn’t matter. I’m ready. I’m always ready for whoever, no matter what.

“I’m a fighter and I’m ready to put myself up against anyone. I’ve re-dedicated myself. I’m in the gym every day now, taking it like a job. I’m ready whenever.”

Usyk has to fight within 90 days under a deadline set by the IBF for the Ukrainian to defend his title, leading to speculation that he will seek an alternative opponent – potentially at short notice – should Fury withdraw from the new date.

Usyk’s team entered brief talks with the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger, Filip Hrgovic, before organisers in Saudi Arabia rescheduled his bout with Fury.

Wilder’s status as a title contender was damaged by his underwhelming defeat to Parker, appearing to cost him a much-anticipated meeting with Anthony Joshua, who is now fighting former UFC champion Francis Ngannou.

“The last outing showed me where I am and where I need to be,” said Wilder, claiming the setback has helped him. “If I would have won that fight, I would have been doing the same training. I wouldn’t have changed nothing.

“It was a boring fight and nothing really happened. I went right back to training the next day. As a fighter, you should stay ready. That’s the mistake I made: not staying consistently in the gym.”

Wilder lost to Fury in 2020 and 2021, surrendering his WBC title in the first of those defeats as part of a trilogy in which the first episode ended in a draw.

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