Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk: Ring Of Fire - Portraits
Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images

This weekend (Sat., May 18, 2024), undefeated Heavyweight great, Tyson Fury, returns to action opposite multiple-belt champion, Oleksandr Usyk, inside the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This is boxing, so a grand total of four belts are up for grabs between the duo, but that might just be the least intriguing angle of this match up.

How about the immense pressure to perform that’s surely weighing on “The Gypsy King?”

Fury has never lost in the ring, but he’s given away belts in the past over contract disputes or mental health battles. Losing gold is hardly the real risk. At 35 years of age, however, Fury is really putting his entire boxing legacy on the line here. What separates this bout from any other title fight — always a high-pressure affair — are the circumstances that Fury has built up leading into the match.

In some regard, Fury cannot be blamed. Being forced to withdraw from the February booking versus Usyk because of a sudden cut could happen to anyone, but it does add pressure to show up and perform this weekend. Then, in something of a gray area, there’s the simple fact that Fury’s madman father is head butting people and acting like a menace (per usual).

That adds a bit to the potential embarrassment factor.

Of course, Fury definitely deserves a large heap of the blame for putting himself in a must-win position. He likes to take tuneup fights, a habit which is tolerated by the boxing community but doesn’t endear him to anybody. Sure, we occasionally get quality highlight reel stoppages, but Fury’s love of tuneup bouts has nearly cost him his undefeated status against non-elite competition.

Fury could’ve lost via cut stoppage against Otto Wallin. More pressingly, Fury didn’t show up in shape to his tune up versus Francis Ngannou. Instead of an easy paycheck and showcase performance, Fury was floored by “The Predator.” In fact, he nearly lost the fight. A lot of people scored the bout against him, Fury walked away with his tail between his legs, thankful to have escaped with a victory. A few months later, Anthony Joshua demonstrated what should happen when a great MMA fighter boxes an elite champion.

And that certainly had to sting.

Finally, there’s the simple fact that Usyk is a Cruiserweight first and foremost. I’m not knocking his Heavyweight talents and abilities, but Fury is going to enter the ring as the significantly larger man, and the visuals of a defeat wouldn’t help his case.

All of this adds up to be an immense pressure to win. Because of his choices and troubles alike, Fury’s resume is built almost entirely on the Wladimir Klitschko victory nearly a decade ago — a legendary, if boring, win — and his trilogy with Deontay Wilder … which doesn’t appear to be aging that well.

A defeat at the hands of Usyk doesn’t erase Fury’s unbeaten run or his best wins, but it does likely remove him from the all-time Heavyweight talks he so clearly wants to be part of. While Fury will still have plenty of high-profile options moving forward, defeat would vindicate a lot of the criticism and hate Fury receives.

On the flip side, returning from the various controversies and poor performances to hand Usyk his first career loss would be a huge deal. Defeating Usyk would be a much-needed and undeniably great victory for “The Gypsy King” resume. Fury retains his place as the top dog in Heavyweight boxing, and he remains able to do whatever he’d like moving forward.

It’s all on the line in Saudi Arabia.

For the completed “Fury vs. Usyk” fight card and DAZN PPV lineup click here. For more boxing news and notes click here.

Author: Staff

Please go to MMAMania.com to read full article.

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