Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury have both arrived safely in Saudi Arabia. In just over a week’s time, one of them will fly home as the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis outpointed Evander Holyfield in 1999.

The meeting of the world’s most mercurial heavyweights promises to provide manna from heaven for amateur body-language experts and armchair psychologists.

As the fight draws closer, every aspect of the bout will be overanalyzed and dissected, and each movement, staredown and word will be pored over as observers search for clues as to who may have the apparently all-important mental edge.

Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, doesn’t believe that mind games will have any part to play in the outcome.

Warren has been around Fury for more than a decade and has seen him wear many hats.

Fury was happy to play the role of showman before his comeback fights with Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianetta in 2018, and he adopted a regal, ultra-confident state of mind ahead of his world title defense against Dillian Whyte in 2022.

Warren watched on in shock as boxing debutant Francis Ngannou pushed an overconfident and/or underprepared Fury to the limit last October, and he was by Fury’s side for serious affairs such as his trilogy with the explosive former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

Warren notices a change in Fury’s demeanor as the stakes get higher, and he expects him to be all business as next Saturday’s fight draws closer. 

“I think he gets himself into the right place. I think he really does have a good mindset for these fights,” Warren told BoxingScene. “Look, Usyk’s a tough guy. He’s undefeated as a pro and he’s had an impeccable amateur and professional career. I don’t think you’re gonna get to him with mind games. I don’t think he’s dopey enough to fall for all that. He’s a mature man.”

The real mental warfare will only start once the first bell rings.

The 6-foot-9 Fury is the bigger, stronger man, but if he tries to bully Usyk from the opening bell and overcommits, Usyk, an expert counterpuncher, could have success with his fast hands and work rate. 

A cagey, stand-up boxing match may put the onus on Usyk to get close to the bigger man and make the fight, but it could also result in Fury walking into traps as he follows Usyk around the ring.

The fight is such an appealing prospect because it could go in so many different directions. For his part, Warren thinks Fury already possesses the blueprint that will help him create history.

Although the shifty, smart Usyk presents an entirely different set of problems than Wilder, Warren believes that as long as Fury uses his physical advantages, the aggressive, assertive approach that he utilized to great success in his second fight with Wilder could reap similar rewards.

“When that first bell goes, this fight is all gonna be about who controls the fight and who imposes himself,” Warren said. “That’s what Tyson will have to do. He’ll have to impose himself. I think he’s capable of that and I like to think it’ll be like the second fight he had with Deontay Wilder. That’s how I would like to see it pan out.

“His big advantage is his reach. They’re both good boxing brains, but I think [Fury] has got a really long reach. Having said that, Usyk got inside Anthony Joshua’s reach. Is he gonna get inside Tyson’s? That’s gonna be interesting.”

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