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Fight Picks: Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Fighters Network
15
May

On Saturday, Ring heavyweight champion and IBF/WBA/WBO titleholder Oleksandr Usyk will face WBC beltholder Tyson Fury at The Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

​The two will meet to decide who is the undisputed heavyweight champion on DAZN Pay-Per-View. The event begins at 12 p.m. ET/ 9 a.m. PT. and also on TNT Sports and Sky Sports in the U.K. at 4 p.m.

Usyk, rated at No. 3 by The Ring at pound-for-pound, was an outstanding amateur who captured gold at the 2012 Olympics. He cleaned out the cruiserweight division, beating Krzysztof Glowacki (UD 12), Marco Huck (TKO 10), Mairis Briedis (MD 12), Murat Gassiev (UD 12) and Tony Bellew (TKO 8), all in their home countries. After moving up to heavyweight, Usyk was hampered by injuries and the pandemic.

He scored a routine win over late substitute Chazz Witherspoon (RTD 7) and outpointed perennial trier Derek Chisora (UD 12). However, the proud Ukrainian reminded everyone just how special he is when he twice bested Anthony Joshua (UD 12/ MD 12). More recently the 37-year-old stopped Daniel Dubois (KO 9) in front of over 40,000 fans in Poland.



Fury, rated at No. 1 by The Ring at heavyweight, went the traditional route, winning British, Commonwealth and European titles. He didn’t always impress and had to get off the canvas along the way. However, he remained unbeaten in 24 fights but was a huge underdog when he shocked Wladimir Klitschko (UD 12) to become Ring, IBF, WBA and WBO champion in November 2015. His life unraveled outside the ring and he didn’t fight for two and a half years.

To his credit, he turned his life around and whipped himself into shape losing tens of pounds, and mounted a comeback. “The Gypsy King” came close to unseating WBC titlist Deontay Wilder (D 12). In their rematch, however, Fury impressively stopped the American in seven rounds to claim the vacant Ring championship and the WBC belt. They fought a rubber match and Fury again showed his outstanding recuperative powers, twice getting off the floor to stop Wilder (KO 11). He’s marked time against Dillian Whyte (TKO 6) and Derek Chisora (TKO 10) in big events in the U.K. before heading to Saudi Arabia to face former UFC star Francis Ngannou in a boxing match. However, the 35-year-old had to get off the canvas and struggled to edge home via 10-round split decision.

Usyk (21-0, 14 knockouts) will be significantly smaller and lighter than Fury. Can he overcome those disadvantages with skill and guile? Meanwhile we’ve seen Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) perform as erratically inside the ring as outside, brilliant against Dillian Whyte and Wilder in their second fight while looking decidedly average against Otto Wallin, and most recently against Francis Ngannou. Which Fury will turn up? The 37-year-old was caught with a borderline bodyshot that had everyone had an opinion on against Dubois. Is his body a potential weakness Fury can exploit? Fury suffered a cut that led to the February fight being postponed. Will three months have been enough or will there be some residual scar tissue that may open up during the fight?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Fury as a EVS (+100) favorite, while Usyk is priced at 11/10 (+110); the draw is 12/1 (+1200).

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING 

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: FURY UD

“It’s great that barring a draw we’ll have a Ring and undisputed heavyweight champion for the first time in over 20 years. If the heavyweight division thrives then the sport does, and thanks to the activity and match ups we’ve seen in Saudi Arabia that is the case. I don’t see this playing out in exciting fashion. I think it’ll be a chess match. I subscribe to the old adage, ‘A good big un beats a good lil un.’ And while I believe Usyk is plenty good enough to beat any heavyweight in the world, Fury is just long, has more reach and he is awkward as hell, and will win a rather uneventful 12-round unanimous decision. That said I’m pulling for Usyk. He’s carried the hopes of his country and represented the sport in a way few others have. But I just don’t see it.”

LEE GROVES: FURY UD

“If you had asked me about this fight 18 months earlier, I would have predicted a dominant Fury victory due to his massive size advantage and his ability to maximize it. If you had asked me about this fight following his dismal showing against Francis Ngannou, I would have predicted a Usyk decision victory because of Usyk’s steadiness and Fury’s lack of it. Now, as fight time closes in, it appears Fury has addressed this fight with the appropriate seriousness, and a serious Fury is a dangerous Fury because not only is “The Gypsy King” bigger and stronger, he is, at his best, very versatile. The only question I have is the state of Fury’s eye cut that prompted the postponement; has it healed enough to withstand the needle-sharp punches that will surely land on it? The last left-hander to fight Fury (Otto Wallin) opened up the scar tissue and nearly pulled off the upset. The guess here is that Fury will rise to the moment as well as the considerable challenge Usyk will present and eke out a competitive points victory.”

DIEGO MORILLA: USYK UD

“The sense of purpose that drives Usyk due to his country’s situation should be enough to consider him a favorite, but in terms of pure boxing analysis it’s his speed, IQ and mobility what will give him the edge over a Fury that is always an enigma in terms of preparation for his fights, both physical and mental. An inspired Fury could always land a knockout blow in any round, but Usyk knows that this is just one of only a handful of wins that could turn him into a legend in the game – and he has the tools to make it happen.”

MARTY MULCAHEY: USYK SD

“To date, Fury has proven he boxes too well for power punchers, and is too big and awkward for conventional boxers to cope with. So, what happens when he faces a smaller superior boxer with surprising power? My hunch is that Usyk pulls off a minor upset using his superior timing and edge in hand speed. Yes, Fury advantage in size and reach will be difficult to overcome, but Usyk showed he is capable of dealing with those negatives against Anthony Joshua. I am not underestimating the boxing IQ or skills of Fury, and think he will rally in the championship rounds to make it a close affair. However, Usyk’s southpaw stance, tricky angles, and higher volume of punches in the first six rounds will give him the cushion for a split decision victory by a round or two.”

RON BORGES: FURY PTS

“Usyk is one of the most skilled boxers in the world. The problem for him is that so is Fury and he has a huge size edge. Fury is not a one-punch wonder like Deontay Wilder or a large but still unrefined fighter who is easily tricked like Anthony Joshua. Fury knows how to use size, range and power to control the terms of engagement better than either of them. So the deciding factor will be conditioning. Mental and physical. If Fury has that he wins by decision. If he doesn’t, Usyk will school him. My bet is on the bigger man. Fury by decision.”

NORM FRAUENHEIM: USYK SD

“Controversy is the best pick for a fight that already includes reported plans for a rematch in October. But Usyk figures to emerge from it with agile movement, different looks and southpaw style that will target the scar tissue near Tyson Fury’s right eye Fury looks to be in good condition. Photos of a slimmed-down upper body has many believing he has resurrected himself all over again. With his gigantic advantages in reach and height, it goes without saying that a well-conditioned Fury is dangerous. But the unanswered question is the condition of that problematic eye. Unlike the bombs-away Deontay Wilder, Usyk knows how to test it early, often and with a variety of punches from a variety of angles, all enough to win a narrow decision.”

Oleksandr Usyk (left) and Chazz Witherspoon during their October 12, 2019  fight at the Wintrust Arena. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

BOXING INSIDERS

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): USYK TKO 

“At last we have the undisputed heavyweight title fight everybody’s been talking about. These two are the best in the division bar none and while Fury starts this fight as a betting favorite, I see Usyk as the more complete athlete of the two. Much is being made of Fury’s height and natural weight advantage. However, I see this as being an advantage for Usyk as he has proven when defeating bigger men like Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois that size is not an issue. I also think that the dramatic weight loss for Fury will not do him any favors in terms of his punch resistance. Sure, Fury is good at what he does but I believe Usyk is better at what he does. Tactically Usyk wins this fight on the inside. I think Usyk can stop Fury in 8 to 10 rounds.”

STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): USYK PTS

“This is a fascinating style matchup. While the 6’9″ and effectively mobile Fury has been a nightmare for almost all of his opponents, the intelligent, quick-footed Usyk is equally difficult to solve. This is a tough one to call, but I just sense that the timing is better for Usyk. I could see him moving in and out, scoring and stepping away. I think Usyk wins by reasonably close decision.”

CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER): USYK SD

“It is a fight where I believe Fury will have to solve a southpaw who’s very crafty. Usyk’s style relies heavily on angles which might be very difficult for Fury to deal with. I believe stamina will be a factor for Fury in the sense that it will be more difficult for him to use his bodyweight as he usually does to tire out his opponents given Usyk’s ability to be evasive and slick, using angles. Additionally, I believe Usyk can outbox Fury given his foot movement and hand speed. I’m sure Fury will be in much better shape than he was in his last fight against Ngannou. Usyk, who has been waiting for this moment for a very long time, should be extremely motivated and in an exceptional form as well. I see Usyk winning via a split decision.”

SERGIO MORA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ COMMENTATOR): FURY PTS

“Size and weight matters in boxing. Fury is much bigger, taller and longer than Usyk! Usyk is brilliant on his feet, and proven to have the right style against big men, but they haven’t fought a big man like Fury who actually uses his size and fights like a big man. Fury can box on the outside and maul on the inside. That’ll be difference. Fury by decision.”

Tyson Fury (left) and Otto Wallin fight during their heavyweight bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada – Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): FURY 

“The winners…the fans. I have been saying in the past, how Usyk is a smaller version of Fury. This fight will entertain the fans and just may get a few new fans to the sport. Both talented, both throw combinations, both slick. With them being so alike, I’m leaning towards Fury. Remember, the bigger version beats the smaller one.”

TOM GRAY (FORMER MANAGING EDITOR FOR THE RING): FURY SD

“This is a very hard fight to call. I’ve always said Fury would win, but the Ngannou fight has me second-guessing myself. If that performance was all down to ill-preparation, then I stick with my original prediction. However, if Tyson has slipped significantly then Usyk is the wrong guy to be in against. If both men are at 100 percent, then I see Fury having success by chasing Usyk down, doubling and tripling the jab, switch hitting and pulverizing the body up close. Usyk will have his moments, but Fury, unlike Anthony Joshua, won’t be mesmerized by the feints and sharp shooting. He’ll walk his man down and tire him out late. The pick is Fury to edge home by a slim margin that has fans and media calling for the contractually agreed rematch ASAP.”

JOE ROTONDA (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): USYK PTS

“Love this fight, there is no doubt that these two are the absolute best in the heavyweight division. They both have incredible resumes between them; Wilder, Klitschko, Joshua, Breidis, Dubois, etc, an unbelievable list of elite level fighters that have been conquered by these men. I simply cannot foresee a situation in which somebody gets stopped in this bout, I think this fight will actually come down to the gas tank, whoever has it in them to be that much more productive and offensive in the championship rounds will end up earning the close decision. I do believe that Usyk is going to be the one to do that in what should be a super close, competitive, and entertaining fight. Usyk by decision.”

STEVE KIM (THE 3 KNOCKDOWN RULE): USYK PTS

“Perhaps I’m being a prisoner of the moment, but the way Fury looked in the fall versus Ngannou does concern me. Yeah, I do expect a much better and more focused version of ‘the Gypsy King’ to show up on the 18th. But I’m still left wondering if he hasn’t gone backwards physically. Also, his history against smaller,  more mobile boxers isn’t great. Which is exactly what Usyk is. It took some time, but he has grown into being a legitimate heavyweight. I like Usyk to be quicker off the trigger, and to utilize his boxing IQ to score the upset victory by 12-round decision.”

TOM LOEFFLER (PROMOTER, 360 PROMOTIONS): USYK UD

“I think it will be an entertaining fight between the two best heavyweights that both have a very high ring I.Q. I see Usyk’s speed and angles being the edge to win the majority of the rounds in a close fight.”

ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER): FURY UD

“It has finally arrived; It’s the final countdown and the world will be watching. Two of the biggest names in boxing and one of the biggest personalities. In Usyk you have a very high IQ and in Fury you have a very effective awkward style that finds the way to win. I believe the postponement benefited Usyk as it gave him more time to adjust to the weight. The key to victory for him will to be constantly moving and try to tire Fury who may try to impose his size. For Fury he needs to work the body and use his size and weight, Usyk has been hurt or bothered to the body he needs to focus on his body. I don’t expect a fight to break out, I believe it will be tactical throughout but like any heavyweight fight it just takes one punch. In the end, the winner by unanimous decision is Tyson Fury.”

RICH MAROTTA (COMMENTATOR): FURY UD

“Really excited about this fight because of the mystery of it.  Not really sure what is going to happen inside that ring. Usyk-Fury is rife with questions, and most of them surround Fury.  Is he going downhill? Is his head really into it? Can he dictate the distance and style of the fight. Can he bully Usyk with his strength? Will he box or try to walk his adversary down? It does appear Fury has answered one big question surrounding his physical conditioning, as he looks fitter than in quite some time. There are fewer questions about Usyk. He is in his prime, he is extremely clever, and resilient.  So this one is more of a guess. Tyson does fight better when he senses a real threat to him. So, I’m thinking Fury has prepared well, and has enough left to utilize his size and considerable boxing acumen to mix it up, make it ugly at times, and score a unanimous decision win over the skilled but much smaller Usyk.”

CHRIS ALGIERI (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): FURY PTS

“Tremendous fight with incredible historical significance. A win for Fury solidifies him as one of the greatest heavyweights of the modern era. A win by Usyk locks him as the best cruiser of all time as well as one of the best heavyweights of current times. As good as Usyk is and how he just doesn’t know how to lose, it’s hard for me to get over the size difference and seeing him struggle with big, strong, physical guys like Daniel Dubois and Derek Chisora. Fury is not only a giant but he is athletic and knows how to impose his size (Wilder 2). I see Fury making it ugly and winning a decision.”

JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): FURY PTS

I just think Fury is too big, and also can box for a big guy. I also think Fury will have Usyk down, but Usyk will get up and give him some issues. But end of day Fury will pull it out.”

ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): FURY PTS

This fight puzzles me, largely because I’ve no idea which version of Tyson Fury is going to turn up. I’m inclined to forget Fury’s relatively shambolic performance against Ngannou; his approach and mindset will be so much better this time, they have to be. Because in Usyk, Fury is in against his best opponent since Klitschko and perhaps ever. Usyk won’t be standing numb in front of Fury like Chisora or Whyte and he’s light years better than Wilder. This is a proper test for Fury who will need to be at his best to win. But Fury will look to use his assets of size, strength, jab and relative power more than previous Usyk opponents. He’ll probe to the body to see if there are indeed questions to be answered there. If the Ngannou performance was actually a marker and a precursor to decline, then Usyk will outsmart, outmanoeuvre and outbox Fury. But if he’s still got it then I think the balance tips towards Fury.

Final Tally: Fury 11-9

ALSO ON RINGTV:

Lennox Lewis weighs in on Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tyson Fury – The Ring (ringtv.com)

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].

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