Carl Frampton has urged Tyson Fury to pursue a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after watching him “throw victory away”. 

Usyk won their undisputed heavyweight title fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – where Frampton was ringside – but had to come from behind to do so after a difficult opening six rounds.

In a dramatic ninth he threatened to stop the previously undefeated Fury, but both fighters entered Saturday’s fight with contractual clauses to force a rematch later in 2024, making it likely that they will fight again.

When he spoke in the ring, post-fight, Fury spoke of his belief that it was he, and not the 37-year-old Usyk, who deserved victory, and also said that he wanted the rematch. When he then spoke at his post-fight press conference he was reluctant to reveal his plans, and after a lengthy build-up to the biggest fight of his career instead spoke of having a rest before deciding on his next move.

Before his first fight with Deontay Wilder in 2018 – previously the biggest in which he had been involved – Fury featured on the undercard of Frampton’s victory over Luke Jackson at Belfast’s Windsor Park, when he outpointed Francesco Pianeta, and Frampton said: “I think he can win a rematch. I think he threw that fight away. 

“I don’t wanna do a disservice to Usyk – he won it. At the halfway point they came to me in the punditry spot, and I had the fight four [rounds to] two to Fury. Usyk was hurt to the body; he walked into a few uppercuts. I made the point that it was going to be hard for Usyk to come back and I couldn’t see a way, really, but he dug deep and done exactly that, and I scored the fight to Usyk by a round – six rounds each and the ‘knockdown’ was the difference for me.

“If he does win it, I still think you have to have him as one of the top heavyweights [ever]. He’d certainly be in the top 10, anyway, of great heavyweights. If he beats him in the rematch it’s a massive fight, and there’s another fight then if he beats him in the rematch, because both men aren’t like Leo Santa Cruz – they’d like to settle the score, not just [having won] one each.

“I love Usyk. I love everything about him – he’s a phenomenal fighter. 

“I [also] think it was good for [Fury] to be light. The output was high. That suited him.”

It was in the days before the retired Frampton’s victory over Jackson, of Australia, that it became clear that Fury – at that stage only one fight into the comeback that followed almost three years of inactivity in which he had become suicidal, abused drugs and alcohol and swelled to in the region of 30st – would next fight the feared Wilder.

If fighting one of the most dangerous punchers in history represented a significant and premature risk capable of ending his comeback, his participation, at the age of 35, in the first undisputed heavyweight title fight since those between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in 1999 again more than justified the risk that ultimately became one of the most significant chapters in one of the most compelling of all stories.

“I was surprised,” Frampton reflected on his reaction to the news of August 2018. “He didn’t look impressive in any of the fights he had pre-Wilder, after the long layoff. I knew he was a brave man, but I was surprised. 

“The first fight obviously finished a draw, but the whole world knew that Fury won that fight. But [I was] surprised that he fought a guy like Wilder at that stage – for both of their careers – and in my opinion beat him.

“There was a lot of hype about Wilder being there [in Belfast], and about Fury. I genuinely thought that it was probably too soon for him, but he proved me wrong, and like he said in the lead up to this fight, he rises to the big occasions, and he done it against [in 2015, Wladimir] Klitschko; he done it in the three Wilder fights. 

“Other fights like [Derek] Chisora; [Dillian] Whyte, he goes through the motions. When the pressure’s on on big, big nights he rises to the occasion. If he gets chinned then [against Wilder in December 2018], I think the comeback’s over there.

“It’s incredible the journey Fury’s been on. The Wilder fights, and even when Chisora and Whyte weren’t ideal opposition, they were massive fights in big stadiums. The fight with Usyk’s probably the biggest fight of my lifetime; the biggest I’ve been involved in as a broadcaster [for TNT Sports]. I was buzzing about it – absolutely buzzing.

“It’s been an incredible journey – it really has. Look at the state of him at one point after the big Klitschko win when he really went off the rails. He got big, out of shape, and like he would never fight again, and you look at how bad he looked then – the change has been phenomenal. I believe he’s one of the best heavyweights that’s ever lived – genuinely. He could have competed – there’s an argument to be made that he could beat any heavyweight that’s ever lived before.

“It’s weird [that so significant a fighter fought on my undercard]. That’s one you can tell the grandkids about, you know what I mean? ‘Fury fought on my undercard.’ He’s going to be remembered. To say that he fought chief support to me at Windsor Park – massive.”

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