Size, Self-Belief and Experience – How Fury Can Beat Usyk
History will be made in Saudi Arabia on February 17, 2024 when the heavyweight division will crown a four-belt champion for the first time ever.
Tyson Fury puts his WBC belt on the line against Oleksandr Usyk – the IBF, WBA, and WBO title holder – with the winner crowned the unified king of boxing’s blue riband weight class and the lineal champion. What’s more, with both fighters undefeated, “someone’s O has got to go”, so it’s all on the line in Riyadh.
Fury, 35, is the marginal favorite two weeks out from the fight, the odds no doubt shortening since his lackluster display against former UFC champion, but boxing novice, Francis Ngannou last time out.
Still, there is plenty in Fury’s favor and if he uses his it all to his advantage, he can beat Usyk and have those four belts wrapped around his body come the end of the fight.
Use the Size Advantage
The most clear and obvious advantages Fury has over Usyk are size, weight, and practically every physical attribute available. At 6’ 9”, the Briton is six inches taller than Usyk, and more crucially his 85” reach is a full seven inches on the Ukrainian’s.
Fury’s jab forms the foundation of his entire gameplan; he uses it to measure distance, launch combinations, and limit his opponent’s attacks. By utilizing his reach advantage through his jab, Fury can both rack up the rounds and hope it forces Usyk to lunge in an attempt to close the space, thus leaving the Ukrainian potentially vulnerable to the counter.
As for his superior weight, Tyson Fury can tip the scales anything north of 260lbs, whereas Usyk has consistently been around 220lbs since stepping up to heavyweight. That is a huge amount of weight that Fury can use to his advantage if deployed correctly – like he did against Deontay Wilder.
Against the American, Fury frequently leaned on him to tire out his legs and if he can do the same against Usyk – a fighter renowned for his balletic footwork – Fury can take away one of the Ukrainian’s biggest strengths.
Prove Doubters Wrong
Fury has never been the shy or retiring type. He boldly proclaimed he would beat Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015 when no one gave him a chance, only to return from Dusseldorf with the Ukrainian’s world titles.
The boxing world again wrote off his prospects when he stated he was coming for Wilder in 2018. Having only contested a couple of tune-up fights after battling severe mental health problems and addiction, Fury proceeded to school the then WBC champion for most of 12 rounds – only a knockdown in the 12th saw Wilder scrape to a split decision draw. Yet, Fury came again and demolished the ‘Bronze Bomber’ in their next two fights to claim and then retain the WBC title.
That level of self-confidence was absent when a sheepish Fury narrowly avoided a calamitous defeat to Ngannou – an opponent he clearly did not take seriously, despite his claims that he had a full and intense 12-week camp.
History has shown that Fury operates at his best level when he has something to prove, and after the Ngannou escape, he will be determined to show the world that he is still the main man of the heavyweight division. He may dismiss Usyk as a “middleweight”, but Fury will not be taking him lightly, and with a determination to prove the doubters wrong, he will be more focused and prepared than for any previous fight.
Rely on Greater Experience
Usyk, 37, is arguably the greatest cruiserweight boxing has ever seen, but compared to Fury he remains a relative novice at heavyweight. The Ukrainian has contested just five fights in the weight class and two of those – against Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora – were against over-the-hill and limited opponents.
Usyk was sensational in his first fight against Anthony Joshua to become a two-weight world champion, but he was pushed much closer in the rematch and was given a stern test by Daniel Dubois before stopping him in the ninth round.
Fury will view himself as a significant step up compared to Usyk’s previous opponents and having contested 35 fights in the division – winning all but the one draw with Wilder – is far more experienced in the unique challenges of heavyweight boxing.
In a fight between two skilled and intelligent technicians that is expected to go the distance, Fury’s greater heavyweight nous over 12 rounds could prove a key difference.