Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk is a really exciting fight – there’s so much to analyse that it’s really difficult to call.

These are the type of fights we all enjoy the most – when the odds are close and we struggle to determine who’s going to win. On the occasions of most other big, modern-day fights we typically know who’s going to win or lose, but this time around we simply can’t.

It’s also not often enough that we see the fights we most want when both fighters are at their peaks – if Fury and Usyk aren’t at theirs then they’re certainly close to it. This isn’t Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao – we haven’t had to wait that long since Fury defeated Deontay Wilder and Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua for them to meet to prove who’s the very best.

On his best day, Fury could beat any heavyweight in history. But he’s a fighter of extremes – he’s either completely unfocused and all over the place, or he’s completely zoned in and performs like the 6ft 9ins, athletic, intelligent, fully-prepared boxer he’s capable of being. 

Usyk may be the best ever cruiserweight. There is an argument for David Haye but Evander Holyfield is Usyk’s biggest rival, and Usyk’s also so far been a terrific heavyweight – and might still have more to show.

There’s been suggestions for some time that Fury’s not the fighter he once was, and if that proves true on Saturday night it’s because of the way he’s lived. Usyk, by contrast, is consistently professional and disciplined, even when he’s not preparing for a fight.

Fury appears to have prepared professionally this time around, unlike before he fought Francis Ngannou, and to also have prepared for a long fight. He looks lean and healthy in the face, has lost weight, and is focused, because he understands that this fight could go the distance and that he needs the durability to be able to box throughout. 

I’ve seen it suggested that losing the weight he has will affect the punch resistance that’s always been so impressive, but his advantages in size and weight means he’s still much bigger than Usyk and that if he needs to bully him he’ll be able to do so. It would surprise me if his punch resistance suffered, even though he’s capable of being unpredictable; instead he should benefit from being light on his feet.

It’s also been suggested that Fury ought to fight a physical fight, and I can’t disagree. For all of Fury’s talent, Usyk’s a masterful boxer – an Olympic gold medallist and a technician. Fury can box him to a degree but he also needs to rely on his size.

Usyk needs to ensure his head movement’s every bit as good as we’ve previously seen; to force a tactical fight. He holds his punch position and balance very, very well; no matter what step he’s taking he’s able to shoot off of that, because the position of his hands, feet, and his balance is always very disciplined. Usyk also needs the mentality to resist the moments when Fury will attempt to bully him and fight a dirty fight, so that he remains committed to the skills that serve him so well. He’s also a sneaky fighter who lands punches his opponents don’t see coming – a left hand, or a body shot, or the jab after a feint. He needs to keep confusing Fury while throwing his punches after the different looks he’s consistently capable of giving, which is something he’s always specialised in – and to do so he’ll have to resist some heavy pressure, but if he can, those sharp shots can make Fury hesitant.

The opening rounds will be very important for two fighters who are at their best when they establish their rhythms. Fury needs to be physical early on and come forward behind his jab, and Usyk needs to start to dictate by being first with his punches to resist that attempted physicality – which I expect to involve Fury getting inside and pushing down on Usyk’s head. 

Will Fury be able to deal with Usyk’s southpaw stance, or will he struggle like he did against Otto Wallin in 2019? Usyk’s not just a southpaw – he’s a masterful southpaw who knows how to make his stance work for him.

As is consistent with modern-day boxing, a rematch clause already exists for these two to fight again later this year. The rematch clause that existed between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence showed that a rematch is far from guaranteed, but the rematch should sell itself – off the back of an exciting fight or maybe even some controversy and a debatable decision at the end of 12 competitive rounds, which is more than possible.

Ultimately, I expect Fury to win a close fight – potentially a decision edged by him recording a knockdown. I expect Usyk’s technical ability to give Fury plenty of trouble, but Fury’s physicality and ability to maul him should lead to him earning a decision in a close enough fight that a rematch ought to take place.

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