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Tyson Fury's father headbutts Team Usyk member, left bloodied in Saudi


Fight week for the undisputed heavyweight title showdown between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk
got off to a combustible start in Riyadh as Fury’s father headbutted a member of Team Usyk and was left covered in his own blood.

John Fury, a 59-year-old former boxer of modest renown, is an ever-voluble presence at his son’s fight weeks, something that has particularly been the case since the “Gypsy King” split with his trainer and now-estranged uncle Peter Fury, John’s brother.

While the two champion fighters were engaged with a pre-fight media event on Monday, members of Fury and Usyk’s entourages clashed in the hotel where the interviews were taking place.

WATCH: Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk, live on DAZN

The Ukrainian contingent entered chanting “Usyk! Usyk!”, which John Fury later told iFL TV he felt showed a lack of “respect”. “Gypsy John” and his contingent then began chanting their man’s family name in response.

Usyk and Fury’s security detail initially managed to insert themselves into the middle of the melee but Fury Sr went head-to-head with a counterpart from the rival camp. As he moved away from that altercation he turned towards a younger member of Team Usyk, later identified as Stanislav Stepchuk, and launched a headbutt.

Either the impact of the blow or the scuffling immediately afterwards left Fury with a cut on his forehead and blood streaming down his face.

Insults continued to be exchanged between both teams, with Usyk’s manager Alex Krassyuk on the scene seemingly to placate Fury Sr. Shortly afterwards, John began repeatedly shouting “We are Spartans!”, still covered in blood.

Isaac Lowe, the former Commonwealth featherweight champion and Tyson Fury’s cousin, then made one of a few unsuccessful attempts to mop John Fury’s face and stem the flow of blood. “I live for blood, guts and horror!” was his next exclamation.

Krassyuk then offered apologies on behalf of team Usyk before Tyson Fury emerged from his interviews, looked quizzically at his father, and asked: “What’s happened to your head, you silly c***? How’ve you cut yourself like that?”

His father then howled in the direction of the assembled crowd: “The greatest show on earth has begun, here in Saudi Arabia!”

In an interview with Boxing News in the aftermath of the incident, John Fury was initially unrepentant.

“Emotions were running high, men step to one another and that’s what happens,” he said. “It’s testosterone and I’m full of it, from my boots to the top of my head. At the end of the day, if there’s a fight going, I’m there first. We live for it. That’s what we do — 300 years of bloodline.

“Let me tell you, when you’re in John Fury’s face and you’re not ready to have a go and give it your best shot, I’ll be all over you. You’ve just seen that. I don’t care.

“If I’d have valued him, it’d have been worse. I’d have given him an uppercut and a right hand and put him into the promised land. At the end of the day, enough was enough. You come in my space and they’re having it. No man born of his mother can get in my face and be cheeky.”

A little while later in an interview with Second Out, Fury Sr sought a more diplomatic path in very relative terms.

“Sincere apologies to everybody involved,” said the man who retired with an 8-4-1 professional record. “It’s just the way we are. Emotions and tensions are running high. He was a very disrespectful fella. If you come close in a fighting man’s space, you’re gonna cop for something.

“What matters to me is respect for my son and he wasn’t showing any of it. He mentioned my son and that was it, so he had to have it. It doesn’t bother me [bleeding], it’s what we live for, we’re fighting people. That’s a regular occurrence to me.”

Stepchuk then offered his own faintly bemused reaction to Seconds Out via an interpreter, sporting a small cut and slight swelling on his own head.

“I was just supporting our team. We were only shouting, ‘Usyk! Usyk!’ I didn’t touch him,” he said. “Maybe he’s a little bit crazy.”

“I was a little bit shocked. Yeah [I wanted to punch him], but because of the age difference it would not be very fair. For his sake, it is recommended he should not look for an actual fight because he could have a heart attack and finish in the ambulance.”

MORE: All you need to know about Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk fight

Speaking to The Stomping Ground, Usyk shrugged off Fury Sr’s antics.

“For me it doesn’t matter. My focus is on the fight. Bad behaviour from the Fury team and the Fury father. It’s a problem only for the Fury team.”

After that interview, he was shown mobile phone footage of the altercation and doubled down on his disapproval.

“It’s bad behaviour because he’s a big man,” he reiterated in footage captured by Boxing News. “He’s a father, not a street fighter.”

Having initially apologised for his side’s part in the fracas, Krassyuk told Boxing King Media that he now felt the apology should be coming in the other direction, given Fury as the aggressor.

“I thought initially that one of our guys hit John but then I saw the video and it was vice-versa, so what should I do? It was his misbehaviour,” he said. “I will not take my apologies back but he has to bring his. This kind of behaviour does not give a good impression about us to the rest of the world. 

“This is a classic sport. This is the diamond of combat sports. People have to know that boxing is a sport of intelligent people. It’s up to him but let the world know that we are intelligent people.

“I said let me deal with my guys, I’ll take care of that. If someone was wrong they would be out of our team. Now I see that no one was wrong but someone from their team was wrong. Will they do the same? It’s up to them.”

Speaking to Boxing Social, Krassyuk said Usyk’s reaction to Fury Sr’s already infamous headbutt was: “Don’t touch my guys, it’s too dangerous.”

The first undisputed heavyweight title fight for 25 years is five days away.

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