Just hours before British heavyweight contender Tyson Fury was to face last-minute substitute opponent Alexander Ustinov on Saturday, he pulled out of the fight in a stunning development.
The move comes three days after Ustinov was signed to replace Dereck Chisora, Fury's original opponent, who withdrew from their rematch claiming he fractured his left hand in his final sparring session -- against Ustinov.
It has left Saturday's card at the Phones4U Arena in Manchester, England, in disarray again, but this time with no chance to salvage the main event, although the show will go on with the original co-feature -- Billy Joe Saunders facing Emanuel Blandamura for the vacant European middleweight title -- moving to the top of the bill.
Promoter Frank Warren announced that Fury pulled out after his uncle, Hughie Fury, had taken "seriously ill" and was taken to the hospital. Warren said that Peter Fury, Tyson Fury's other uncle and also his trainer, made the decision to pull him out of the fight "rather than risk his health by sending him into the ring with his mind not focused."
"I'm very, very, disappointed for the fans," Warren said. "After Dereck Chisora pulled out because of his hand injury, we worked very hard to secure a world-ranked opponent in Ustinov. It's sad that his uncle Hughie is in a serious condition and our thoughts are with him. The show will still go ahead and as before it's a great card. ... We will be announcing the rescheduled date for Chisora versus Fury next week."
Fury (22-0, 16 KOs), 25, was very vocal and critical when Chisora pulled out as well as when former world titleholder David Haye suffered injuries twice in a row and pulled out of fights with him. Now it is Fury who has withdrawn, on even shorter notice than they pulled out on him.
Ustinov (29-1, 21 KOs), 37, of Belarus, who had won two fights in a row since his lone defeat, an 11th-round knockout loss to top contender Kubrat Pulev in a European title fight in September 2012, was selected to replace Chisora because he was ready to go after being one of Chisora's main sparring partners for the fight with Fury.