This Saturday, Oleksandr Usyk puts his IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles on the line in his rematch with Anthony Joshua, live exclusively on Sky Sports Box Office.
But there is a missing piece to the heavyweight puzzle. Tyson Fury is the third leading figure in the division. Whatever this weekend’s outcome, the calls for Fury to face the winner of Usyk-Joshua will only increase.
Fury holds the WBC heavyweight title. However, the fickle man from Morecambe is unpredictable. In the last fortnight, he has declared that he wanted to fight Derek Chisora, mooted a change of trainer and re-announced his retirement, while his American promoter, Bob Arum, remains eager to face him against the winner of Saturday night. night.
Fury’s next move may be hard to decide, but it’s safe to say the WBC champion will be a tough man to beat. He is 6 feet 9 inches tall and has an instinctive feel for the rhythm and vagaries of a fight. He knows how to use his size and, most importantly, he knows how to win. He has defeated Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder (twice) and has never lost in 33 professional fights.
Usyk, however, is another undefeated heavyweight champion. He dazzled in his victory over Joshua last year and could be the man to unseat Fury.
In the opinion of boxing expert and former world title challenger Matthew Macklin, Fury has never faced an opponent with Usyk’s skill set.
“I think Usyk definitely brings a number of problems to Fury that no one else has faced, that no one else brings to the table,” Macklin said. sky sports.
“I think pretty much everyone in Fury boxed, he’s the best fighter and he has the best IQ in the ring. He’s smart and he has the physical attributes.”
“But I think with Usyk’s boxing ability and his intelligence in the ring, he will have met his match there. Also, the fact that Usyk is smaller, lighter and more mobile, I wonder if that could benefit it in some areas.
“[Fury] He’s the man to beat, but Usyk definitely brings a different set of problems to the fight for Fury to solve.”
Olympic medalist Tony Jeffries can see an advantage the Ukrainian would have against Fury.
“Usyk versus Fury would be a very interesting fight,” he said. sky sports. “I could also see Usyk overcoming that. I hope that happens.”
“I think Fury’s advantage over pretty much everyone he’s fought, aside from his size, is that he’s too fast for them.
“He has never been with someone with Usyk’s speed, whereas Usyk has boxed a lot of people faster than Fury and maybe as big too.”
Another crucial aspect in a fight with Fury is the psychological battlefield. Trainer Dave Coldwell, who cornered Tony Bellew when he fought Usyk in 2018, noted, “I think a big part of Fury’s big wins in the main event fights he’s had is where he got inside his opponent’s head, more Or less like Usyk does, where he makes the opponent so focused on what Tyson Fury is going to do that they don’t think about what they’re doing.
“Usyk is quite like that, where he gets into your head. It gives you a much bigger picture, you stop doing what you set out to do, what your game plan was.
“I think Usyk has the mentality and the ring IQ to beat Fury. The fact that Fury couldn’t get into Usyk’s head, I think he would get into Fury’s head.”
The problem anyone faces when trying to fight Fury is his size, which would be especially difficult for a small heavyweight like Usyk.
“Tyson Fury is a bit of a giant,” Coldwell said. “Not just the size difference, it’s that Fury is so good at knowing how to use his size. In so many different styles, he can do it going forward, he can do it going backwards, he can choke you, tie you up, lean on you, which is huge. for a big man.
“Someone like Usyk, he’s the perfect size to mutilate and bend all over the place, take that sharpness out of Usyk, who’s huge.”
What Usyk would have to do is point to Fury’s trunk. “Fury makes mistakes, but he sees that body. It’s a big target. A more obvious target, a target you won’t get as close to,” Coldwell said.
“Because the problem is when you try to close that distance so much, against such a big reach advantage, you end up reaching. You’re reaching, you lose your balance, you get countered. A few clip you, you’re going to know about that. I’d say you have to be patient and go to the body.
“He has the tools to beat him.”
While the Ukrainian was just as impressive in his first fight with Joshua, that doesn’t guarantee he can repeat the feat a second time.
“If the taller man knows how to make that pay, it’s very, very difficult for a small guy. The small guy has to work very hard, before he lands anything, to get in and out of range safely and then do his work, Coldwell said.
“The more you look [the first fight] you realize even though it was bad [for Joshua] and AJ didn’t really do much, he had a lot of hits. The hits he had were pretty big hits.
“He showed a plan for me to get into the rematch.”
Anthony Joshua’s big heavyweight rematch against Oleksandr Usyk is on Saturday, August 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Pre-order Usyk vs Joshua 2 now!