Size, Experience, Power: How Tyson Fury Beats Oleksandr Usyk In Undisputed Title Fight

May 8, 2024
3 weeks
Tyson Fury fights Oleksandr Usyk on May 18

One of the biggest fights in boxing history is almost here as Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk contest the first undisputed heavyweight world title fight of the four-belt era.

On May 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Fury will put his WBC and lineal belts on the line against the IBF, WBA, and WBO world champion Usyk.

It’s a bout that’s been twice postponed, first from December 23 to February 17 following Fury’s tougher-than-expected outing against MMA star Francis Ngannou, and again when the Briton suffered an eye injury in sparring.

However, the wait is almost over and in just a few days, the world will discover who is the greatest heavyweight on the planet.

It’s being billed as a 50-50 contest between the two most technically gifted heavyweights of this generation. So, what does Fury need to do to ensure he will be taking all the belts back to the UK?

Size A Massive Advantage For Fury

It’s one of the oldest sayings in boxing: a good big man always beats a good little man. Fury was keen to emphasize this point during a press conference last month and he proceeded to list numerous examples in heavyweight history of this being the case.

Fury (34-0-1 24 KO) has held a size advantage over all his previous opponents, with only Deontay Wilder measuring up close to the Gypsy King. At 6ft 9in, Fury towers a full six inches over Usyk, while his 85-inch reach is seven inches longer than the Ukrainian’s.

As for weight, Fury typically tips the scales north of 260lbs and could be around 40lbs heavier than Usyk on fight night.

These physical advantages massively work in Fury’s favor, particularly for a fighter as skilled and intelligent as the unbeaten champion.

Fury is a master at judging distance, using his jab to gauge range with which he can use to launch combos and power shots. His distance control is also the foundation for his defense. While anticipating attacks, Fury uses his excellent footwork to get out of range and roll punches.

With such a huge height and reach difference, this will only benefit Fury offensively and defensively. In attack, Fury will know he can fire off his jab all night safe in the knowledge Usyk can’t launch counters without lunging into range. This will give Fury time to anticipate and block or step away to avoid the return fire.

As for his size, Fury has always used it to his advantage. Leaning on opponents has been a staple of the Fury strategy, knowing that it will drain energy from his opponent’s legs.

If Fury deploys his obvious physical strengths, then this will be his fight to lose.

Could Heavyweight Experience Prove The Difference?

One of Fury’s favorite insults to throw at Usyk is to call him “the middleweight” in an obvious attempt to disparage the Ukrainian’s size.

It’s classic Fury trash talk but is also a reminder that Usyk is indeed a natural cruiserweight, and arguably the greatest ever. He is the first fighter to hold all four world titles at 200lbs – belts he successfully defended once, with a brutal knockout of Tony Bellew, before making the step up to heavyweight.

With only five fights at heavyweight, Usyk is a comparative novice to Fury, who has of course fought his entire career in the division.

In the lower divisions, where the weight increases incrementally, that might not make much difference. For instance, someone like Terence Crawford can comfortably win world titles at light-middleweight and again at middleweight as the weight increase is only 7lbs.

But heavyweight is a unique division, and different strengths and strategies are needed compared to other weight classes.

Usyk has adapted perfectly well – as his four world titles can attest – but he has never shared a ring with a heavyweight as good as Fury.

It could be argued that Fury hasn’t faced anyone as good as Usyk, either, but the Gypsy King has fought a wide range of heavyweights – big, small, fast, slow, and everything in between. When the margins are this small, the added experience could make all the difference.

Fury Possesses Greater Power

For all his success, Fury will not be remembered as one of boxing’s great knockout artists. His knockout percentage of just over 70 percent doesn’t even get him close to the top 10 of all time.

Yet, since teaming up with trainer SugarHill Steward at the start of 2020, Fury has displayed far more impressive knockout ability. He became the first fighter to floor and then stop Wilder in their thrilling rematch in February 2020 and repeated the trick in their trilogy fight 20 months later.

Fury followed that up with a one-punch knockout of Dillian Whyte and another stoppage win over veteran Derek Chisora.

There is no question that the WBC champion is carrying more power in his punches since working with Steward, but it’s also about how much more effective he’s been in delivering that power.

He will no doubt be the more powerful, stronger fighter against Usyk (whose KO percentage is even lower at 66.67), and if he is able to land flush on the Ukainian’s head, then it will cause more damage than if Usyk is able to land clean on Fury.