Oleksandr Usyk beats Tyson Fury to become undisputed heavyweight world champion

Usyk celebrates after becoming undisputed world heavyweight champion

Usyk celebrates after becoming undisputed world heavyweight champion (Image: PA)

Tyson Fury took on Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night to crown the first undisputed heavyweight world champion since 1999

Oleksandr Usyk toppled Tyson Fury with a stirring second-half comeback to be crowned the undisputed heavyweight world champion.

Fury dominated the first half of the fight, belying the magnitude of the night by clowning around at every opportunity. But Usyk made a stirring comeback in the desert, forcing the referee to issue a count when only the ropes held his rival up in the ninth round. Fury struggled to regain the momentum and would have been the happier of the two men to hear the final bell.

But his relief was short-lived as Usyk was announced the winner – and the division’s first undisputed ruler for 25 years – by split-decision. The scorecards read 115-112, 114-113, 113-114 in favour of the Ukrainian. After the fight, Fury said: “I believe I won that fight, I think he won a few if those rounds but I won the majority of them. His country as at war, so people are siding with the country at war. Make no mistake, I won that fight in my opinion.”

Oleksandr Usyk has beaten Tyson Fury to become unified world heavyweight champion
Oleksandr Usyk has beaten Tyson Fury to become unified world heavyweight champion ( Image: PA)
Usyk added: “Thank you so much for my team, for my God. Mr Excellency, thank you. It’s a big opportunity for me and my country, Slava Ukraine. It’s a great time and a great day. Without Tyson it’s not possible. It’s not for my win, it’s win for my God and a lot of people who support me and my country Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers, mothers, fathers and children. I want to go to my bed because I want to rest, I want to pray, I want to kiss my wife.”

Fury, who was making the fourth defence of his world title, had weighed in 40lb heavier than bid rival and also enjoyed a six-inch height advantage. He towered over Usyk as they touched gloves, telling the smaller man he was “going to school”. Despite the occasion, Fury was in a playful mood from the first bell, taunting Usyk by lying back on the ropes. He then repeatedly punched himself in the head, beckoning his rival on.

Usyk landed a one-two at the start of the second round as Fury began to target the body – before punctuating the three minutes with an uppercut. Fury was content to box on the back foot but began to use his size to lean on Usyk. He switched to southpaw in the fourth round and prematurely raised his hands in victory after landing a back hand. Such was Fury’s reach advantage that Usyk was at times struggling to close the distance.

Fury said after the fight he believes he did enough to win the bout
Fury said after the fight he believes he did enough to win the bout ( Image: Getty Images)
Fury whipped in hooks to either side of the Ukrainian’s midriff as the former cruiserweight champion showed the first signs of struggle. By the sixth round Fury looked to be in complete control as Usyk began to tire. Now the Brit was on the front foot as his rival backtracked and he reached the halfway mark with his hands behind his back.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Joshua had the best seats in the house alongside boxing’s new powerbroker Turki Alalshikh. Steven Gerrard paid a visit to Fury’s dressing room before the first bell while Brazilian superstar Neymar also made an appearance. And they would have enjoyed Fury’s performance in front of 28,000 fans, including a travelling contingent of Fury’s loyalists.

But Usyk was never going to lie down easily and returned fire in the seventh round with two left-hand reminders. Fury was alive to the threat however and immediately answered back. Usyk increased his urgency in the eighth round as he chased down his fellow champion, appearing to demand he meet him for a fire-fight.
Both men expressed their desire for a rematch after a brutal 12 rounds
Both men expressed their desire for a rematch after a brutal 12 rounds ( Image: Getty Images)

It was Usyk’s best round of the fight as he roared back into contention, landing a left hand flush. And he put his foot on the gas in the next round when a left hand against the ropes left Fury stunned. Fury staggered around the ring as Usyk rushed after him and with only the ropes holding him up, the referee issued him a count. The bell sounded to ensure Fury could fight on but Usyk smelled blood.

Fury had been down seven times before in his career and recovered each time but he looked vulnerable. But that didn’t stop him showboating in the corner in an attempt to prove he wasn’t still stunned. Fury had regained his composure by the penultimate round but the momentum was with Usyk as he flashed in a right hand. A left hand against the ropes worried Fury again as Usyk looked to close the show.

The result was up in the air as the bell sounded for the final round but neither man was prepared to go for broke. Fury landed the final telling blow but it was left to the judges to confirm his fate.

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