Oleksandr Usyk beats Tyson Fury to become undisputed heavyweight champion | Boxing News

Ukraine’s Usyk beat UK’s’s Fury by split decision to become the first unifying title fighter since 1999.

Oleksandr Usyk beat Tyson Fury by scoring a razor-thin split decision to win the world’s first undisputed heavyweight championship in 25 years, an unprecedented feat in boxing’s four-belt era.

The United Kingdom’s Fury was the early aggressor but Usyk gradually took charge and the “Gypsy King” was saved by the bell in the ninth round before slumping to his first career defeat on Sunday.

“It’s a great time. It’s a great day,” Usyk said.

Ukraine’s Usyk joins the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson as the undisputed heavyweight champion, the first since boxing recognised four major belts in the 2000s.

With the win, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion can legitimately claim to be the best of this era, although a rematch expected in October could provide another twist.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]
Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

The UK’s Lennox Lewis was the last man to unify the heavyweight belts – three at the time – after beating Evander Holyfield in 1999.

Usyk got the better of the opening rounds before Fury hit his stride in the fourth, engaging in some showmanship as he started to catch Usyk with vicious body shots, but the Ukrainian battled back with several stinging reminders of his power.

Usyk turned the tide in the eighth round and few would have been surprised had the referee stopped the fight in the ninth as the Ukrainian’s powerful punches to the head left Fury reeling.

Usyk hurt Fury (34-1-1) with a left hand and eventually sent him sprawling into a corner in the final seconds of the round, getting credit for a knockdown right before Fury was saved by the bell. Fury struggled to mount a consistent attack after nearly getting stopped, and the knockdown turned out to be the decisive factor in the decision.

“Thank you so much to my team,” Usyk said while fighting back tears in the ring after the win.

“It’s a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country. Slava Ukraini!”

Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk
Oleksandr Usyk celebrates [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

Fury wants rematch

Fury kissed Usyk on the head after the final bell. Fury also said he wants the rematch in October.

“I believe I won that fight,” Fury said. “I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won the majority of them, and I believe it was one of those what-can-you-do, one of them … decisions in boxing. We both put on a good fight, best we can do.

“You know, his country is at war, so people are siding with a country at war. But make no mistake, I won that fight, in my opinion, and I’ll be back. I’ve got a rematch clause.”

Usyk landed 41 percent of his 407 punches, while Fury landed just 31.7 percent of his 496 punches, according to CompuBox statistics. Usyk both threw (260 to 210) and landed (122 to 95) more power punches.

Usyk has now joined the elite club of fighters who held every major world championship belt at heavyweight – and he is the first to do it in the four-belt era, which began in 2007. The list of undisputed champions includes Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]
Tyson Fury with Oleksandr Usyk after losing their fight [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

Stars line up at ring side

Wladimir Klitschko was among the legends watching along with Saudi-based football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

Riyadh’s newly built, 22,000-capacity Kingdom Arena was packed when Usyk strode out for his ringwalk at 1:30am (22:30 GMT) wearing a green cossack coat and fur hat.

Fury followed, dancing to Barry White and Bonny Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero” in a green sleeveless jacket and back-to-front baseball cap.

It set the stage for a clash of two fighters with impeccable pedigrees and very different approaches to the sport.

In the co-main event, Australia’s Jai Opetaia won a unanimous decision over Mairis Briedis of Latvia to win the vacant IBF cruiserweight title. Meanwhile, Ireland’s Anthony Cacace scored a TKO win over Joe Cordina of Wales to retain his IBO super-featherweight title and claim the IBF belt.

Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk -
Anthony Joshua and Cristiano Ronaldo at of the fight [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images]

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