Fury v Usyk: all you need to know

27 days ago

Heavyweight boxers Britain's Tyson Fury, center left, and Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk face off during the weigh-in in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP

Tyson Fury vs Usyk - Figure 1
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Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk

Ring of Fire: Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the World

Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 19 May (NZT)

Main event ring walks expected at 10am NZT

The long-awaited clash of the two undefeated holders of all the heavyweight gold is finally happening. Briton Tyson Fury and Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk were supposed to meet back in March, but an injury to Usyk in training meant a delay till now. Between them, there is a veritable alphabet of titles, but the best way to describe this is that the winner will become the first undisputed heavyweight world champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.

The build up to this card, billed as 'Ring of Fire', has been full of the usual Fury antics and Usyk stoicism, however things reached a boiling point this week when John Fury, Tyson's father, head butted one of Usyk's entourage in a pre-fight press conference. Usyk landed a bit of a psychological blow by pointing out that Fury had lost a fair bit of weight for the fight, which is a fair point given Fury's size has always been a significant advantage throughout his career. Both men had to be separated by security at the pre-fight weigh in.

Tyson Fury vs Usyk - Figure 2
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It is also a big day for Kiwi cruiserweight David Nyika, who is fighting German Michael Seitz on the undercard, as well as a big day for Fury and Usyk's bank accounts with the main event purse rumoured to be somewhere about $200 million.

Here is the tale of the tape:

Tyson 'The Gypsy King' Fury

Record: 34-0-1 (24 KO)

From: Manchester, England

Age: 35

Height: 6'9" (206cm)

Reach: 85" (216cm)

Weight: 262 pounds (118.8 kg)

Photo: AFP or licensors

Fury is back in the ring once again after retiring at least twice, continuing a remarkable career that has seen him become world champion and be involved in some of the most memorable fights of the last decade. His larger-than-life personality often dominates the headlines, however it unfairly obscures the fact that Fury is an incredibly skilled ring tactician.

He uses his size to great effect, often dropping his left hand to invite the jab, before swiftly evading and countering. Fury moves his head in an unorthodox fashion making it even harder to get to on top of the height difference he usually enjoys, while also employing some cunning tricks like a headlock while both fighters are in a clinch.

Tyson Fury vs Usyk - Figure 3
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Oleksandr Usyk

Record: 24-0 (14 KO)

From: Simferopol, currently disputed territory between Russia and the Free State of Crimea

Age: 37

Height: 6'3" (191cm)

Reach: 78" (197cm)

Weight: 233.5 pounds (105.9kg)

Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk and Britain's Anthony Joshua compete during the heavyweight boxing rematch for the WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF titles, Saudi Arabia, 2022. Photo: AFP

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist is coming in with a formidable record after waiting patiently for this massive occasion. Usyk had dispatched Daniel Dubois and Anthony Joshua twice in his last three fights, firmly putting him in the main contender bracket, and has long been seen as a man who can unify the heavyweight titles. His style is an uncommon right-handed southpaw stance, having his jab on his strong hand meaning he can throw it harder, faster and more accurately.

Usyk is a busy fighter, gauging distance constantly and using his timing to disguise his power punches and get through guards. This sort of constant movement is aimed at disrupting opponents' movement and forcing them into a high work rate at the outset of a fight.

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What does this mean for Joseph Parker

Joseph Parker celebrates victory over Zhilei Zhang (not pictured) with the title belt at the Kingdom Arena on 8 March, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty Images / Richard Pelham

No doubt watching on with interest is former WBO world champion and the fighting pride of South Auckland, Joseph Parker. The result of this fight could have a major bearing on his career trajectory, after his stunning return to the heavyweight picture late last year after his win over Deontay Wilder. Parker supposedly has a rematch lined up with China's Zhilei Zhang, who he comfortably beat on points in March, but given the fluid nature of the division right now it would not be much of a surprise if that gets shelved in favour of something bigger.

Parker and Fury are close friends, with Parker's switch to trainer Andy Lee two years ago bringing him into the Fury camp's sphere of influence. That connection has meant that a fight between the two has long been presumed unlikely, but Parker indicated last month that he is open to the possibility. Given how much money is available now that Saudi Arabia has made itself the epicentre of boxing, it is little wonder nothing is off the table right now.

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Prediction

Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury. Photo: Daniel Leal / AFP

This is an incredibly tough one to pick, given the two men's wildly different styles and the obvious height difference. However, it id safe to say this will not be a brawl - at least for the first eight rounds because Fury and Usyk are simply too good to get drawn into anything that risky.

This will most likely go the distance, Fury has only ever been knocked down once in his career and Usyk has not had that happen at all as a professional. The evasive caginess of both men might make this a bit of a slow burn at first, but Fury's fights generally pick up pace in the later rounds.

Full fight card

Main Event: Heavyweight: Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk for the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles

Cruiserweight: Jai Opetaia vs Mairis Briedis for the vacant IBF title

Super featherweight: Joe Cordina vs Anthony Cacace for the IBF title

Heavyweight: Frank Sanchez vs Agit Kabayel

Heavyweight: Moses Itauma vs Ilija Mezencev

Lightweight: Mark Chamberlain vs Joshua Wahab

Light heavyweight: Sergey Kovalev vs Robin Sirawn Safar

Light heavyweight: Daniel Lapin vs Octavio Pudivtr

Cruiserweight: David Nyika vs Michael Seitz

Featherweight: Isaac Lowe vs Hasibullah Ahmadi

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