The heavyweight division has always been one of the most highly anticipated categories in the sport of boxing. With legendary champions like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, the weight class has always captured the attention of fans all over the world. However, in recent years, the division has been divided with multiple champions holding different belts. On May 18th, this year, the boxing world will witness Oleksandr Usyk ‘The Cat’ and Tyson Fury ‘Gypsy King’ settle their longstanding rivalry and face off for the unified heavyweight boxing world title in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Why Should You be Excited?
This highly anticipated fight is set to determine the true king of the heavyweight division and the undisputed champion the first in over 20 years since the last time the division was unified in 1999. Keeping in mind the last time the division was completely unified we lived in the three belt era, we now reside in what’s known as the four belt era of the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO world titles.
The story of the ‘Cat’ and the ‘Gypsy King’
Unlike other sports, professional boxing is as much about the promotion, as it is about the athletes and their pure ability to win the moment. Fighters of Usyk and Fury's calibre have a historical trajectory built on the foundation of wins and losses, just look at the stats, Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) and Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs). One thing is clear - they are both exceptional athletes, but cut from distinctly different cloth and as epic match ups go, profoundly perfect for each other. So what’s the story behind the characters in this tale of two cities.
In many ways Fury's bar room brawler taunts position this matchup as a David V Goliath battle, however Usyk is no underdog and far from weak. Beyond those eastern European crazy eyes, Usyk has legitimate technical brilliance and speed, bringing precision and agility to his fights that is unparalleled. His footwork and ability to manoeuvre around his opponents make him a formidable force in the ring. Let's not forget, Usyk is no stranger to being the first in the four belt era to unify all four titles and hold undisputed status. Previously dominating in the cruiserweight division, Usyk became the undisputed champion in 2018 when he defeated Murat Gassiev. Holding WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO titles simultaneously, he made history by being the first boxer ever to hold all four major world championships in the cruiserweight class.
The Gypsy King
On the other hand, Fury is known for his size and elusive movements. Standing at 6'9", he possesses incredible agility, footwork and counterpunch technique for his build. He doesn’t have an exact fighting style and tends to be very unpredictable which Fury has mastered to effectively deploy against his opponents. His unruly out of ring banter and unathletic body style masks an exceptionally well-rounded fighter as far as his boxing skills are concerned. Fury masterfully couples this with his high boxing IQ allowing him to execute any game plan needed. To balance the titles equation, he has big heavy weight scalps to his name. In 2015 Fury ended the Wladimir Klitschko era, winning WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, and Ring heavyweight titles. More recently taking out Deontay Wilder, surviving world ending knock downs over a three-bout trilogy to win the WBC title.
Place Your BetsIt’s too hard to call this fight early with some edge of your seat twists and turns to come, that's why it will be that good. Remember David beats Goliath with a simple stone and a well-placed shot off the front foot. It sounds awfully close to Usyk’s skill and ability and Fury is a giant of a man. Fury has more than the luck of the Irish on his side with his own technical brilliance, high boxing IQ and deceptive craft he may just be the leprechaun himself. If I was a betting man, I’d place something both ways or lick my finger, hold it high and see which way the wind’s blowing. This battle of techniques and strategies will undoubtedly make for a thrilling fight. I can’t wait!!!