This fight has had more stops and starts than a school bus route, and the wheels have fallen off the bus way too many times, but we keep going back for more.

It’s history in the making, and after all the delays, the insults, and white noise, we are all hoping that come what may, May 18th actually comes.

It’s been close to 25 years ago, but I can still remember the Lewis v Holyfield undisputed heavyweight championship fight in New York like it was yesterday. The build-up, the weigh-in, the talk of Holyfield being too small for the behemoth Lewis, the undercard, the snow falling as we walked into ‘ The Garden’ and the electric atmosphere with the Lennox Lewis fans singing their hearts out, all made for a historic fight that could not be forgotten.

For decades, New York was the fight city, with Madison Square Garden being the Mecca of boxing. It was a special place for the fighters who fought there in their epic fights and also for anyone who was lucky enough to be in attendance; it was magical.
Through time, Vegas opened its casino doors and bankrolled the way forward to monopolize the world of boxing, giving us, not just classic fights but also a destination where anything was possible for a price.

Sin city took it from the city that doesn’t sleep and now there’s a shift in the sands and for the Saudi’s, it’s not about the money, the power or greed, it’s purely because they can.

Money does talk, and the Saudis have enough of it to talk very loudly. They have not only crashed the party, they have kicked the door in with big oily boots.

With the biggest fight in boxing so near yet so far, all eyes will be fixed on the new fight date, and all we can do is wait and hope.

Prior to the recent postponement, it was very clear that Usyk had been training hard for weeks, but more than likely, months preparing for his biggest challenge yet. Fury, on the other hand, will tell anyone who listens that he hasn’t been in the gym, but in reality, he would have been foolish not to put in a good camp and take Usyk seriously, but listening to him, you wouldn’t think it. ‘ All I need for Usyk is 3 or 4 weeks of sparring and one week of rest. I’m a fighting man, been fighting all my life, so I can’t learn anymore, and that’s that. ‘

Fury is an enigma, a clown, but no one can call Fury a coward. Did his ego overtake what was actual reality – definitely. Did Fury need more time to get ready? Only Fury knows.

Conspiracy theories have been rife across social media, claiming Fury intentionally nicked open an old war wound from the Wallin fight, to then slip on the headgear and let the sparring partner take aim and target the cut and film it for everyone to see.

Is it possible? Anything is possible, but I would say Unlikely.

Hours after the sparring footage, Fury then sent out a selfie video with a rant, a statement, smiling to the camera, stating his newly formed stitch-up job was due to an elbow. He explained the cut situation, to then throw in a few insults at Usyk, laughing, and jeering Usyk , saying the new date was decided and Usyk was getting knocked, spark out. He finished by praising the Saudis, Riyadh, and everyone he could think of.

For a man who has just been cut and was supposed to be ‘ peaking’ to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, and with less than two weeks to go until the biggest fight of his career, it’s been postponed, all in all, Fury seemed a very happy man. Some would say relieved.

Some will say he wasn’t ready and that he needed more time, and some will say he is a master of getting inside his opponent’s heads. Could there have been some doubt in Fury’s mind that after all the insults, trying to get inside Usyk’s head, the penny has dropped, and he has realized that he has allowed Usyk into his and that he is terrified to lose to the man he called ‘ a little sausage’

Usyk’s promoter, Alex Krassyuk, has demanded that the WBC strip Fury of his belt, but that’s never going to happen. Krassyuk is just doing his thing, but really, his work is done, and he will also be focusing on what’s ahead. Usyk’s longtime advisor, Egis Klimas, also has his hands full as not only does he have the Saudi fight going on, but he will be supporting Vasiliy Lomachenko in Australia one week earlier as his man takes on George Kambosos in another world title match.

It’s not an ideal situation for the Ukrainian team.

The Saudis want this fight, and they have issued a warning to the two champions, saying they will deduct ten million dollars as a penalty from their purse if either fighter pulls out.

The fight

Everything is at stake, and the world will be watching.

Oleksandr Usyk ( 21 fights, 21 wins ( 14 by stoppage) is 37 years old, and Tyson Fury ( 35 fights with 34 wins ( 24 stoppages) and one draw) is 35, so both are arguably peaking in many people’s eyes.

For me, I have been studying Fury, and I think he is on the slide as a fighter. I think his legs and movement are now not what they once were, which is making him easier to hit and be countered.

In 2018, for the first Wilder fight, he weighed in at 256 lbs, and in October 2023, for the Ngannou fight, he looked noticeably heavy around his belly and very cumbersome on his feet, weighing in at 277.7lbs.

Oleksandr Usyk has been fighting from a very young age, competing in 350 amateur fights, then turning professional in late 2013. There is an argument that Usyk is also starting to decline as a fighter, with another discussion that maybe he stayed in the amateurs too long.

At 220lbs, Usyk is training to fight while Fury will be training to lose weight.

Many will feel that Fury’s weight will be a strategic ploy and a key to a mauling, bullying victory, overwhelming the smaller Usyk into exhaustion by leaning on him and pushing him backward to the ropes and clubbing and hitting Usyk with pile-driving jabs to the head and hooks to the Ukrainian’s midsection and liver. It does sound like a plan.

With the latest delay, ‘ The Gypsy King’ has changed the goalposts, and this will definitely play into the Englishman’s favor, giving Fury the time to get into top shape and try to unsettle Usyk.

Will Usyk be concerned, or should he be worried? I think he is mentally solid, and he will reset, re-evaluate, rest up, and go again, but the game has changed.

Listening to the Ukrainian champion last week, he seems unfazed, and he sees things much differently, saying, ‘ I don’t need to be heavy; I need to be fast and quick. You never see a fat wolf in the forest.‘

Usyk is smart, and his boxing IQ will tell him that Fury’s bullying tactics could indeed be the case, and he will need to mitigate with speed, movement, angles, and staying off the ropes. It’s clear he doesn’t like the shots to the body and that there might be a weakness there to be exposed. Joshua had him hurt but couldn’t capitalize on it. Dubois gave him fits but didn’t have enough inside to finish him at his most vulnerable. If given a chance, Tyson Fury will make him pay, and Usyk knows this.

Usyk has to push for a bigger ring to use his southpaw jab and get in under Fury’s long reach ( 85 inches), throw fast 1-2 combinations, and make Fury’s legs work, forcing the pace to then outbox him in the championship rounds.

Another factor in this fight that will be critical is what gloves will be worn by Fury. Normally, he chooses ‘ Paffen’, which has horse hair padding. I still find it incredible that Fury manages to fit these gloves after having his hands wrapped and taped. His hands are huge. Both Wilder and Ngannou shared my thoughts in the lead-up to their fights.

Usyk has used ‘ Rival ‘ gloves, which is a synthetic padding, favoured as a puncher’s glove.

When they both step onto the scale in Riyadh, Usyk will be around 220 lbs, and I’m thinking Fury will come in around 260 lbs.

Going back to 1999 to the last undisputed heavyweight championship, Lewis weighed 246 lbs, and Holyfield scaled in at 215lbs, and here we are, 25 years later, talking about the weight of these modern-day heavyweights.

One champion fighting for glory, for the people of Ukraine, and for his legacy, and the other saying, ‘ I’m not bothered about him or ten men like him, and I’m not that bothered about being an undisputed champion. There, me and him and a ton of money, and that’s it. Let’s dance.

We’ve waited for decades into the new millennium for this special moment in time, and it’s now so close, and the world will be watching in excitement and anticipation to see who will conquer and be crowned the Undisputed champion of not just the world but of a generation.

Fight prediction

Tough, grueling fight, but Usyk on points.

Gary Todd has been involved in the sport of boxing for over 30 years, and he is an acclaimed international best-selling author with his books. Check out his latest offering, “ Annie’s Boy.”

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