Sunday, June 16, 2024

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk: ‘Undisputed champion transcends boxing with title win’

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Sublime footwork, an ability to control the pace of a fight and high punch output have moulded Usyk into an all-round boxing mastermind.

Perhaps the 37-year-old’s greatest strength, however, is a calm and collected response to pressure and adversity – both in and out of the ring.

In the most important week of his fighting life, Usyk paid little attention to Fury’s antics.

The ‘Gypsy King’ is an enigma, an unpredictable showman who has the gift of winning the battle of mind games long before the first bell, but Usyk continued with the obligatory face-off at Thursday’s news conference even when Fury refused.

He stood firm but didn’t kick or scream when a pumped-up Fury shoved him in the chest at the weigh-in a day later.

That emotional intelligence and control carried through to fight night. Fury, having showboated in the first half of the contest, was in full rhythm and stunned his fellow champion with an uppercut in the sixth round, but Usyk did not panic.

The two judges who scored the fight to Usyk gave him rounds eight to 11, but it the ninth round which will, rightly, dominate the headlines.

Having bided his time, downloaded the data and figured Fury out, Usyk saw his opening then kicked the door in towards victory.

The southpaw landed clean left hands as Fury scuttled across the ring before being saved by the bell. Another 30 seconds and it could have been over.

The shock in the Morecambe fighter’s face was apparent.

He looked just as perplexed as those travelling Britons who watched rapper YID performing on a stage which hovered above and landed on the ring just before the main event.

It was a stunning turnaround but perhaps not all that surprising. This is what Usyk does.

Whether it is tiring out Tony Bellew and stopping him despite being down on the cards, or finding that extra gear in the championship rounds to outpoint Anthony Joshua in a rematch, Usyk always finds a way to win.

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