After months of negotiating, and more than a few stops and starts, it’s official: Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will meet for the undisputed heavyweight championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
There’s no date—late December of this year or January/February of next year are the targets, per a source with direct knowledge of the deal—and Fury still has business with Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight whom Fury will face Oct. 28. But if Fury comes out unscathed, boxing’s two top heavyweights will meet to crown the division’s first undisputed champion since 1999.
A few thoughts …
Fury is laughing his way to the bank.
Last spring Fury (33-0-1) was roundly criticized for the collapse of the title-unification talks. That criticism was amplified when Fury agreed to a deal to face Ngannou, a boxing novice. Critics, many on social media, blasted Fury for the decision and declared him too scared to face the awkward fighting of Usyk. Now Fury will not only face Ngannou (and make a pile of money), but he is also locked in to fight Usyk (and make a bigger pile of money) with a chance to cement his legacy as the best heavyweight of this generation.
For Usyk, a chance to be known as an all-time great.
Usyk’s résumé is outstanding. He’s an Olympic gold medalist who won his first world title in his 10th pro fight, became undisputed in his 15th and became the unified heavyweight champion before his 20th.
Some fighters talk the talk. Usyk (21–0) walks it. He has faced a steady diet of champions and top contenders in two weight classes since he turned pro, often in his opponents’ backyard. He won the World Boxing Super Series by beating Murat Gassiev in Russia, knocked out Tony Bellew in Manchester and battered Anthony Joshua in London.
For Fury, a win over Usyk would rocket him up the list of the greatest heavyweights of all time. For Usyk, defeating Fury would put him in the conversation for the greatest fighters of all time.
This is a pick ’em fight.
Fury will likely be the favorite. He’s 6'9" with the boxing skills of a middleweight. He’s resilient (see back-to-back wins over Deontay Wilder) and difficult to hit. It’s easy to envision an outcome where Fury positions himself on the outside and boxes Usyk’s ears off.
But Usyk is good. His team pieces together masterful game plans, and Usyk follows them relentlessly. After four years as a heavyweight Usyk has filled in his larger frame well, with his power increasing in every fight. He will pepper Fury’s long midsection with body shots and have a strategy for getting inside. It will likely be more chess match than street fight. But it will be a competitive one.