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Oleksandr Usyk: Plotting Tyson Fury's downfall and fighting for all of Ukraine

Oleksandr Usyk was deep in camp, working over sparring partners and peaking physically when the call came.

It was bad but not entirely unexpected news. It was February 2, and word arrived that Tyson Fury, the 2.06m giant standing between him and heavyweight immortality, had suffered a cut and their era-defining bout was to be postponed.

Those around him say Usyk didn’t skip a beat, instead returning methodically to his drills.

“He just smiled,” said manager Egis Klimas, while promoter Alex Krassyuk posted a picture of him sparring just hours after the news had broken. “Usyk, right now,” read the caption.

Usyk’s team was prepared for the delay. They had spent the previous 18 months frustrated by Fury’s perceived stalling tactics ahead of a bout to decide the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.

But with Saudi Arabia on board, and a signed contract in place, Usyk remained calm.

Besides, what were a few more months when you had been working on a game plan to beat Fury for almost a decade?

“I’ve been preparing for Fury for a few years now, since he beat Wladimir [Klitschko, in 2015],” explained Usyk, 21-0 as a pro. “He didn’t know about me back then because I wasn’t famous in the world of boxing, but I have been preparing for him and Anthony Joshua from the very beginning – since I started professional boxing."

The arrival of the legend Oleksandr Usyk to Riyadh in preparation for the fight in #RingOfFire