Boxing: Oleksandr Usyk Defeats Tyson Fury To Clinch Historic Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Fight In Saudi Arabia 

May 19, 2024 - 13:28
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Boxing: Oleksandr Usyk Defeats Tyson Fury To Clinch Historic Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Fight In Saudi Arabia 

Oleksandr Usyk, on Sunday morning, beat Tyson Fury by split decision to unify the WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF world titles. 

Fury and Usyk were fighting at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh to decide the first undisputed world heavyweight champion in 25 years, the first of the four-belt era.

Oleksandr Usyk defeated Tyson Fury by split decision to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, the first since Lennox Lewis.

Fury was on the brink of being stopped in the ninth round as he received a standing count and Usyk added the WBC title to his WBA, IBF and WBO belts after earning victory with scores of 115-112, 113-114, 114-113 in Saudi Arabia.

Momentum switched in an astonishing ninth when Usyk seemingly had Fury out on his feet. The Ukrainian smashed a left hook into Fury's jaw. It shook him all the way through his 6ft 9in tall frame and had him rocking across the ring.

Usyk harried him with further crunching shots, smacking Fury into one set of ropes then another. Fury listed into the strands. He could barely stand and leaned into the rigging.

Referee Mark Nelson darted in then and administered a 10 count, apparently convinced that the ropes had kept Fury up. It could have been a fateful decision. The bell rang to end the round and save Fury from another onslaught.

At the start of the fight Fury had appeared dialled into the best form we've seen from him for some time.

Boxing has been waiting 25 years to crown a new undisputed world heavyweight champion since the heady days' of Lewis' reign. Fury and Usyk had amassed all the major world titles between them and were fighting finally to decide the first undisputed heavyweight king of the four-belt era.

Despite the importance of this fight, the historic nature of the occasion, Fury was showboating, early in the fight too. He shimmied his body when stood in a corner in the first round, slipping his head from side to side.

For a moment in the second round he hid his hands behind his back. But it was his long, flickering jab that was connecting, just directing Usyk's attention away from that right that Fury dug occasionally to the body.

He ended the second round with a cracking right uppercut through the middle that prompted a smile from Fury.

Usyk had shown no sign of being intimidated by his vast opponent. He'd sent a thumping left cross arching over to catch Fury's head in the opening rounds. Solid straight shots hit Fury's long body too.

Usyk tracked forward in the third round, as chants of his name rang out.

Fury stayed elusive in the fourth round, sliding along the ropes. But when Usyk had him in a corner, the Ukrainian unleashed his punches forcing Fury to weave away from them.

When Fury found space to work he could direct his attentions at the Ukrainian's body. But in the sixth round Fury truly sensed blood. A long right to the head hurt Usyk. He had to back away from Fury to recover himself and the crowd warmed to the Briton's efforts.

Fury was in the ascendancy in the seventh round, going about his work with an expression of glee. Only right at the end of the round, when Usyk tagged him with his left cross did he sound a note of defiance to remind Fury he was up against no ordinary foe.

That prompted Fury to start the eighth round battering hooks round either side of Usyk's head. The Ukrainian gallantly pushed himself forward, but it was getting harder for him to find a way round Fury's long punches.

But when Usyk hurt Fury in the ninth it changed the complexion of the fight.

The Ukrainian sought to press home his advantage in the final round, his lead hook strafing Fury's jaw. But the Briton slugged back at him to keep Usyk off and take the fight the distance.

"Thank you so much for my team. It's a big opportunity for my family, for my country," Usyk said afterwards. "I'm very happy.

"My people will be very happy I think, it's a big win, not only for me, it's a big win for my country, for soldiers who now defend my country.

"I think my father now is watching over me and is very happy. Dad, I love you. I can, you told me I can."

Culled from Sky