Boxing is set to crown a new undisputed heavyweight champion for the first time since Lennox Lewis held the accolade in 2000 when Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury clash in Saudi Arabia in February 2024. The hotly anticipated bout comes after Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion, managed to defend his belt against Derek Chisora while the Ukrainian managed to retain his WBA, IBF and WBO belts against Daniel Dubois in his most recent contest. Both fighters come into the match undefeated, Fury with a 34-0 record with 24 wins via knockout while Usyk holds only 21 wins, 14 by way of knockout. It is the biggest matchup the boxing world has to offer since Fury’s trilogy with former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder but who will come out on top and who will walk away with their name etched into the history books.
Despite his underwhelming showing against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou back in October, the Manchester native will likely enter the fight as slim favourite to walk away with the gold. While Usyk will undoubtedly empty the tank in his bid to add the only belt missing in his collection, the Brit possesses both the size and reach advantage and when on song can outbox almost anyone in the division. The bookies, like the ones listed at compare.bet have Fury as the 11/8 favourite to beat Usyk by decision and 15/4 favourite to win via knockout or technical knockout. The 35-year-old also has the greater experience of the two fighters, as well as the greater big fight experience which counts for a lot in these situations. Having got the better of another famous Ukrainian fighter in Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and Deontay Wilder on two separate occasions Fury will have no shortage of belief in himself that he can get the job done. Of the few doubts there might be, Fury’s unconvincing wins against southpaw fighters in recent bouts will be the primary concern. Ngannou managed to provide a much sterner test than the WBC Heavyweight Champion was expecting and part of the reason for that was his decision to switch to southpaw. The typically imposing, confident and aggressive Fury was nowhere to be found that night and the same was arguably true of two previous southpaw opponents in Otto Wallin and Francis Pianeta who went the distance against the Gypsy King despite both eventually losing in the end. Wallin’s performance is particularly noteworthy having managed to land more punches than anyone else in a 12-round contest against the Brit with 127 punches in total finding their mark. Usyk is a southpaw himself and will take plenty of encouragement from his upcoming opponent’s struggles against similar fighters in the past.
Even so, Usyk often errs on the side of caution in his bouts and that is a strategy that could prove costly against Fury who comes into this bout supremely confident. The Brit has been customarily outspoken on his chances of walking away with the win stating, with his usual aplomb, “I’m going to become the undisputed champion. More than that, I’m destined to cement my legacy as the No.1 fighter of this era. To do that I’ve got to beat this little man, which is easier said than done because he’s a tricky boxer, slick and all of that. But I’ve seen many like him before and when they fight the big men, they struggle. And he will struggle on February 17. I will break him.” For all the pre-fight talk though, the Gypsy King will be astutely aware of the danger Usyk poses to his aspirations of becoming undisputed champ and will not be taking the Ukrainian lightly. After all, the 36-year-old unseated Anthony Joshua as the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion in convincing fashion and managed to repeat the feat in their rematch for the titles a few months later. Then there’s the current champion’s victory over Derek Chisora to consider. While the upcoming bout pits these two opponents who have never faced each other before against each other, both fighters have fought Chisora with the Ukrainian arguably putting together a more complete performance than his counterpart. Fury might have ended the bout against his fellow Brit with a tenth round stoppage compared to Usyk’s points decision victory, he absorbed a lot more punishment in the process. By contrast, the Cat dismantled the 39-year-old piece by piece, biding his time and picking his moment to strike. It would not be too surprising if we see a similar approach from him and with Fury’s well-documented struggles against southpaws an upset could be on the cards. Either way, when these two warriors enter the ring on February 17th it will define this legendary era of heavyweight boxing. The pair are both in their prime and whatever the outcome, boxing purists, neutrals and casual fans alike will gather in their millions to witness what is shaping up to be one of the greatest spectacles in the history of the sport.