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Usyk vs Fury: A Clash of Titans

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk finally meet in the biggest fight in years. As we eagerly await the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era, which of these modern gladiators will prevail?



Well, it might actually be happening.

In but a few days, boxing will have its first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era, and the first undisputed heavyweight champ since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in 1999.

Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury are the two best heavyweights on the planet, both undefeated, both holding titles, but on Saturday night someone will take home all the belts; the other their first defeat.


But who will be who?


Below is the tale of the tape for the two fighters.

Usyk 

 

Fury 

37 

Age 

35 

21-0-0 

Record 

34-0-1 

6’3’’ 

Height  

6’9’’ 

Southpaw  

Stance   

Orthodox  

78’ 

Reach 

85’ 

67% 

KO % 

71% 

WBA/IBF/WBO Heavyweight 

Titles 

WBC Heavyweight 

225lbs 

Predicted Weight 

260lbs 

The difference that immediately stands out is the immense size disparity between the two. Fury shares advantages in height, weight, reach and punch power.

But don’t let this fool you into thinking this bout will be one-sided in favour of Fury…

The tale of the tape often fails to take into account hand speed, footwork, head movement etc, all of which are heavily in Usyk’s favour.


Throughout this blog, I will attempt to unpack the various advantages and disadvantages that each fighter possesses, and how pivotal they will prove to be on Saturday night.


Size

Fury is obviously the bigger man and has used his size to his advantage on many occasions in the past, most notably against Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder, but is there such a thing as being too big?


Fury’s size gives him a huge advantage over other big fighters especially in combination with abnormal speed, but is this as much of an advantage against a much smaller man?


Usyk is probably the fastest heavyweight in the world and Fury will have problems getting close to the slippery Ukrainian.


Fury has a track record of struggling with smaller fighters, most notably the American cruiserweight Steve Cunningham, who moved up in weight to fight Fury in 2013.

Fury is actually on record stating his dislike for smaller fighters, claiming on a podcast about Cunningham:

“Cunningham was the hardest fight I ever did have my entire career. The reason being, he was very slippery, he was light on his feet, he was weighing 208lbs, he was a slick, talented boxer, and I tried to walk him down, use my size and power. But he was just outboxing me.” (Tyson Fury on The Joe Rogan Experience).


Usyk is ten times the fighter Cunningham was, and if his speed and footwork is able to counteract Fury’s size, then it could spell trouble for the ‘Gypsy King’.


Fury light, Usyk heavy?

An interesting development in recent days is that Fury looks to be coming to this fight a bit leaner than usual, while Usyk looks to be a bit heavier.

Usyk normally fights at around 215-222lbs and a bulkier Usyk makes sense against a fighter like Fury, who will be his physically biggest opponent to date.

Reports from the Usyk camp suggest that he is working on his punch power and planting his feet more, further lending itself to the possibility of a heavier Usyk.


Whilst Usyk coming in heavier makes sense, I’m not sure Fury coming in lighter does.

Fury’s best chance of victory is to use his size to bully Usyk into submission, lean on him etc. If Fury comes in light and tries to outbox Usyk then he could be in trouble.


Stances

Usyk’s stance as a southpaw gives him an immediate advantage over most orthodox fighters, because he is able to create angles that a right handed fighter won’t be used to.

In addition to this, Fury has struggled in the past against left-handed fighters, most notably with Otto Wallin, who gave Fury a nasty cut in 2019 (something we will arc back to later).


But Fury has a secret weapon, one that I expect him to initiate for at least a proportion of the fight. One of Fury’s great talents as a boxer is his ability to box in both stances, Southpaw and Orthodox.

I fully expect Fury to box a few rounds in the left handed stance to confuse Usyk, who has very little experience against left handed fighters, despite being one himself.


Usyk’s Body

In his last few fights, Usyk has begun to show weakness in the mid section that a lot of people think Fury is likely to exploit.

Despite losing their second fight, Anthony Joshua had a lot more success against Usyk when he targeted his body, rather than his head.

When a fighter has the exceptional head movement of an Oleksandr Usyk, it is often wise to target the part of their body that can’t move, the midriff.

Daniel Dubois also had success against Usyk whilst going to the body, and had a (to some people) controversial knockdown ruled as a low blow.


However, for all those thinking that Fury will be able to impose similar tactics, it is going to be much harder for Fury than it was for Dubois and Joshua.

Attacking the body is normally a tactic employed by a smaller fighter who struggles to reach the head of his opponent consistently, larger fighters can also employ it well, seen by Devin Haney against Vasyl Lomachenko, but for someone of Fury’s size to implement this against Usyk would be incredibly difficult.


This is where Fury’s bigger size could cause him problems.


To reach Usyk’s body Fury will have to get his 6’9’’ frame incredibly low, something he never does, and in doing so could find himself at serious risk of attack from Usyk.


Fury’s best option in this fight is to tie Usyk up when he gets too close. If he goes looking for the body too much, he opens the door for Usyk to pop off punches in the close quarters.


Fury’s Cut

As many of you will know, this fight was meant to happen in February. But a serious cut just above Fury’s right eye, in a very similar spot to the one opened by Otto Wallin, caused the fight to be delayed to May.


Whilst the cut has now healed, that scar tissue remains weak for a long time. Once a fighter has been cut that badly, the cut will almost always open again.


Fury has shown that he is susceptible to cuts above his right eye, and if the scar tissue opened in February, you can bet that this will happen again against Usyk.


This cut should be Fury’s biggest concern, especially being in the direct firing line of Usyk’s left hand.


If the cut opens again on fight night and Fury can’t see where an already lighting Usyk is firing from, then the Ukrainian will end the fight as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.


Average performances?

A point I see many people making is Fury’s incredibly dire performance against Francis Ngannou back in November, and his lacklustre resume over the last few years.

Usyk is by far the most skilled heavyweight on the planet, and has fought top quality contenders en route to his fight with Fury, Fury on the other hand has not.


However, this is Tyson Fury, a man who thrives on the big occasion and proving people wrong.


From images circulating online, Fury looks in exceptional shape going into this fight, and I have no doubt that he will be at his best when he steps into the ring against Usyk.


Final prediction

It’s a difficult fight to call, as a battle for undisputed should be, but I do envisage an Oleksandr Usyk decision victory.


That said, I see the fight being incredibly close on the score cards, with a draw definitely in the running.


For Fury to win he will have to use his size to bully Usyk and try and keep him on the end of his long reach, but I just see Usyk being too evasive for Fury.


A Fury victory solidifies his claim as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, whilst an Usyk victory makes him one of the greatest pound for pound fighters ever.


With a rematch already confirmed for October, it wont be long before we see these two lock horns again.


The clash of titans is upon us, the excitement is palpable.


You can almost feel the earth shake…

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