Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk were in little mood for needless chatter at the final press conference before they meet for Saturday night’s undisputed world heavyweight title fight in Riyadh.

A shirtless Fury wore a flame-­covered suit, black waistcoat and a jaunty black trilby but he was uncharacteristically brief and conciliatory before he studiously avoided ­engaging in a traditional face-off with Usyk.

Rather than indulging in a largely meaningless boxing ritual the 35-year-old Fury folded his arms and smiled at the crowd. Perhaps this was some pointed form of psychological warfare – but Usyk was similarly unyielding and uninterested in any form of boxing pantomime.

The 6ft 9in Fury, being seven inches taller than Usyk, could have accepted the offer to accentuate the height difference but he refused to turn towards the Ukrainian.

The 37-year-old Usyk had slipped into the usual position, facing Fury, but he made no effort to goad his rival.

It was as if both men had decided that they wanted to rise above the usual bluster and chaos of boxing. They disappointed anyone ­waiting for insults or fireworks – but this fight does not need any more hype.

Dressed in a white suit, with a ­­traditional black-and-white sash and band often worn by Ukrainians on their day of independence, Usyk had set the tone when he was called to the dais. “I am excited … let’s make history,” he said bluntly.

Prompted to add a little more, Usyk said he had been working on his “homework” at the table where he and Fury sat. He said with a little smile and shrug that he was writing a poem. He refused to add to the apparent joke or reveal anything more, ­­saying: “Not now.”

Fury followed the terse template and insisted he would keep it “short and simple”. Rather than making any grand predictions or proclamations of certain victory, Fury said: “I want to thank God for the victory I’ve received already. I want to thank people for putting this event on and I want to thank Oleksandr Usyk for challenging me.”

Oleksandr Usyk cryptically said his ‘homework’ for the unifying heavyweight clash with Usyk included writing a poem. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters

Typically of boxing today, the press conference allowed questions only from an interviewer who works for the promoters. He endured a ­hapless task. Fury, usually such a garrulous and outrageous talker, could not be coaxed or cajoled into trash talk. “I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve got nothing else to say apart from I’m ready for a good fight.”

Asked if he had a message for Usyk, Fury said: “God bless him. I’ll say a prayer for him before the fight and for us both to get out of the ring safely.”

Usyk was invited to make a direct statement to Fury. He shrugged. “Let your hands talk in the ring.”

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Boulevard City, the press conference location which describes itself as “an enchanted realm” and “an entertainment hub where every moment is a jubilant celebration”, was decidedly muted.

Even John Fury, Tyson’s father, who had butted a member of Usyk’s entourage on Monday, was silent and thankfully missing from action. The Fury family are usually loud and vociferous – especially when facing a contingent who can match them with raucous noise.

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Usyk’s name had been chanted for a few seconds by his Ukrainian crew but they, too, slipped away into tense silence. The Fury clan did not yelp or crow.

After a long week everyone had run out of talk and nonsense. The magnitude of this fight held sway. All that matters now is that in the early hours of Sunday morning local time, Fury and Usyk will be alone in the ring, with just each other and a referee for company.

When the first bell rings, and they fight to become the first undisputed world ­heavyweight champion this century, we should have compelling drama. Fury and Usyk, admirably and intriguingly, both seem to understand the depth and gravitas of the defining test that awaits them. Their silence spoke volumes.



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