It’s been almost twenty years since boxing has had an undisputed heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis being the last man to make it to those lofty heights. This spring, boxing fans worldwide are salivating at the possibility of having an undisputed heavyweight champion once again, as Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury are in advanced talks for a fight that could unify once again.
At this point, it seems the fight has been made, but it’s unclear exactly whether anything has been signed, or what the details are. I’m not going to weigh in on the war of words between the fighters, their camps, and every pundit out there, but I’m assuming the fight will happen in late spring or some time in the summer at the last. That might be optimistic but the fight needs to happen. Nobody wants to see these two fight second tier fighters – true fans want to see the best against the best. True fans want to see undisputed, lineal champions, fights with drama, tension and excitement.
That’s one thing that the UFC, with a monopoly on the highest tier of mixed martial arts, excels at. They make the fights people want to see. They put the best against the best, almost every weekend. Boxing has a tragedy of the anticommons situation, where everybody fights for their little chunk of turf, fighters suffer, fans suffer, the sport suffers. But here is a once in 20 years chance for the sport to redeem itself!
I’m a big fan of both Fury and Usyk. They both have a share of the heavyweight championship belts, with Fury holding the lineal championship. Usyk was an incredibly cruiserweight, and after cleaning out the division took the leap to heavyweight, a leap few have made with as much gusto. He was challenged and won a decision against Dereck Chisora, then won the belts from Anthony Joshua, against whom he also defended them. Fury has been a heavyweight probably since about the age of 10 ;). He ascended to the highest heights and lowest of lows, and lived to tell the tale. When he rounded back into form again, you saw a rare heavyweight with the ability to get up from literally being knocked out, beat the count and go on the attack, with knockout power and unheard of speed and footwork for a man who is 6’9″ and 270-280 pounds. He can play it both ways, stay out of trouble using his reach and elusiveness or be the big bully, brawling and mauling, just ask Deontay Wilder.
To me, the only ‘comparable’ they have in common is Dereck Chisora. Fury demolished Chisora the last time they fought. Yes they fought before, but this is a closer fight to Fury’s current form, so makes the best comparison. Chisora had Usyk hurt, and was not in danger from Usyk. We can play the ‘well he beat Joshua who beat Chisora’, or ‘he had trouble with Cunningham, a smaller faster boxer’ all day either way, but the way I see it is, there’s no better litmus test. By that measure Fury wins handily.
To me, Fury is too big, too strong, and too tough for Usyk. How does Usyk hurt Fury? How does he even touch him? Well, he hurt Joshua, but he’s not as big, or as tough, or as hard to hit as Fury, as shown by his recent losses in particular when he got knocked out by Andy Ruiz. Fury absorbed the biggest hits in the divsion from Wilder, what is Usyk going to throw at him? Is he going to be able to win rounds against a slippery boxer who is that much taller? I don’t think so. How does Fury hurt Usyk? Simple. He comes at him, hits him, grabs him and mauls him. Leans on him, grinds him down, with heavy punches.
My prediction is that Fury knocks Usyk out in round 6.
Hold me to it. With any luck we will know this summer and a new undisputed champ can set to work establishing their place among the all time greats.