Was Tyson Fury dropped by Jai Opetaia while sparring for Oleksandr Usyk?

 | January 26 | 

4 mins read

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Nearly a month into 2024, boxing is back in full gear. Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer gave us a thriller last weekend, complete with the omnipresent controversy over the decision. Major cards are being made and the calendar is rapidly filling up with some tasty fistic treats.

Allow Betfred Insights to catch you up on an action-packed week in the best sport there is. Welcome to Five Boxing Stories You Might Have Missed.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk Odds

  • Tyson Fury to win @ 8/11
  • Oleksandr Usyk to win @ 6/5
  • Draw @ 16/1

Opetaia Leaves Camp Amid Fury Knockdown Rumours

The Ring cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia has left Tyson Fury’s training camp after reportedly sharing just five rounds of sparring with the WBC heavyweight king. Rumours abound that Opetaia knocked Fury down in their sessions.

The idea was quickly put to bed by two separate journalists. Fox Sports’ Ben Damon cited Opetaia’s departure as a result of “a lack of orthodox sparring in Fury’s camp”, reporting that the Australian left to continue preparations for his upcoming IBF title fight with Mairis Briedis.

Gareth A. Davies went further saying, “It’s much more likely that Fury knocked Opetaia down”. It is unclear if this was a genuine assertion or simply a flippant weighing of the probabilities. Davies had echoed Damon by saying Opetaia left for more Briedis-focused sparring. This is likely the simplest explanation for boxing’s latest storm-in-a-teacup drama.

Ngannou Calls Out Wilder

Francis Ngannou is yet to have won a professional boxing match, but he is getting used to his status as a de facto top heavyweight. ‘The Predator’ has a date in the diary to fight Anthony Joshua, but he is wasting no time in lining up the division’s other leading lights for future fights.

Speaking to Sky Sports’ MMA Club, Ngannou targeted former WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Acknowledging ‘The Bronze Bomber’ recently losing to Joseph Parker, he said “Wilder better get it together because I’m not done, I want that name on my record”.

It’s an ambitious call-out from Ngannou, even given Wilder’s recent loss. It might be a tough sell given there is every chance Ngannou will be 0-2 by the time any fight with Deontay could happen. Though with enough Saudi money and overblown hype surrounding it, a meeting of two men who were once considered the hardest punchers in the UFC and boxing respectively might garner interest.

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Abdul ‘Two-Ferraris’ Walid

Another fighter looking to capitalise on the largesse of Saudi Arabia’s boxing scene is Abdul Walid. The fighter was previously known as Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis before converting to Islam recently, changing his moniker. One fan on X found out exactly what happens if you don’t call Walid his preferred name.

This week, Walid joined the conversation surrounding boxing’s increased focus on Saudi Arabia. Speaking to FightHype, Walid outlined what it would take to get him to the Kingdom for a long-anticipated superfight with Devin Haney.

“They made me mad. If they want something, they’ve got to send something to my door, like two Ferraris or something.”

An attempt to stall the fight? Or is Walid playing 4D chess? After all, he has just challenged the one nation who would welcome the PR coverage of such a stunt and a pair of Ferraris is well within their price range. Better invest in some new driving gloves, Abdul.

Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe is on

The British cruiserweight scene is as hot as it’s ever been at the moment and with another huge fight in the calendar, the temperature just got turned up. Chris Billam-Smith will defend his WBO cruiserweight title against old rival Richard Riakporhe. BOXXER have confirmed the bout, with a time and a place to follow shortly.

Riakporhe is the only man to beat Billam-Smith as a professional. ‘The Midnight Train’ edged past the current WBO king by split decision on that occasion. Riakporhe hasn’t lost since and now gets his shot at world honours against a familiar foe.

That 2019 reverse lit a fire under ‘The Gentleman’ too. Billam-Smith has won the British, Commonwealth, European and WBO world cruiserweight championships since. The two men first met as future superstars. You can drop the word “future” now. This is a huge fight between two of the best around.

Tsyzu vs Thurman Set For March

Tim Tsyzu will defend his WBO super welterweight title against former unified welterweight titleist Keith Thurman in March, according to ESPN’s Mike Coppinger.

Thurman has fought just once since a 2019 loss to Manny Pacquiao. His last bout was a February 2022 decision win over Mario Barrios. At the age of 35, you wonder both what he has done to deserve this shot, and how his body will cope with a two-year lay-off.

The attraction is clearer for Tsyzu. Thurman is comfortably the biggest name he will have ever fought. The Australian’s title reign has been lowkey thus far, in part due to a struggle in finding opponents. If Thurman is willing, he could serve as a high-profile scalp to start the second-generation Tsyzu era.

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