Boxing In Riyadh: Tyson Fury v Francis Ngannou
Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO Heavyweight titles are on the line when Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk clash TONIGHT (Sat., May 18, 2024) inside Kingdom Hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Fury is an undefeated champion, aiming to join the pantheon of all-time Heavyweight greats. He’s suffered a few mishaps along the way, most recently scraping past Francis Ngannou via split-decision. The pressure is on for Fury to show up in shape and perform like a champion, because Usyk is going to batter anything less than his best. The Ukranian achieved unified Heavyweight champion status in 2021, was a Cruiserweight king previously, and won Olympic gold all the way back in 2012. Undefeated himself, “The Cat” is a genius of a boxer, but he’ll face a severe size disadvantage in this match up.

Let’s take a closer look at the betting odds and strategic keys for each athlete:

Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk: Ring Of Fire - Final Press Conferences
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Fury vs. Usyk Betting Odds

  • Tyson Fury victory: -120
  • Tyson Fury via TKO/KO/DQ: +300
  • Tyson Fury via decision: +210
  • Oleksandr Usyk victory: +100
  • Oleksandr Usyk via TKO/KO/DQ: +300
  • Oleksandr Usyk via decision: +650
  • Draw: +5000
  • Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images

How Fury Wins

Fury is one of the craftiest Heavyweights of all time. He excels at using his size and gargantuan physical advantages to their fullest extent, capable of both picking his opponents apart at distance with the jab and smothering them into exhaustion from close quarters. He can show up heavy or lean, play for points or hunt for the knockout.

Against Usyk, a display of power is going to be necessary. That’s not to say Fury can headhunt wildly — in fact, Anthony Joshua found much better success in the rematch by committing to body work — but Fury shouldn’t just be trying to poke Usyk with the jab. His Southpaw opponent is quite good at smothering the jab and working his way inside, so strictly fighting at distance sounds difficult even for taller man with the orangutan arms.

To implement his size effectively, I’d like to see Fury moving with his jab then crashing forward behind hard 1-2s. When he commits, he has to do so suddenly and behind feints, but that right hand should be a constant threat to the Ukrainian talent. Plus, if Fury is falling into the clinch behind his right, that should help nullify Usky’s counters and combinations, as well as slowing him down over time.

Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2 - Rage on the Red Sea World Heavyweight Title Fight
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How Usyk Wins

Usyk is a boxer who deeply understands combat in the ring. A tactician, the Southpaw has a habit of making excellent competition appear out of their element, as he slowly takes away their offensive tools while picking up the pace with his own shots.

Obviously, Usyk has to find a way to navigate the range of Fury. The path to doing so involves focused ring-cutting and a smart jab. Usyk has to use his footwork to make the ring feel smaller, while his hand-fight skills and ability to parry down his opponent’s lead hand should create a path for his own jab. Even if he starts by jabbing the gloves, that will help occupy Fury’s jab hand and let Usyk slip inside and gain inches forward.

Extended combinations and body work both feel like major keys here. When Usyk is inside, he has to use body work to keep Fury off him and punish clinch attempts. Taking a page from Francis Ngannou and really fighting off the clinch to keep the action going is important, because letting Fury dictate that control will cost Usyk rounds and cardio.

Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder
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Fury vs. Usyk Prediction

There’s a reason the odds makers have this one as a near pick ‘em. Both champions are excellent boxers who make the correct decisions, and for an event of this magnitude, they’re sure to come equipped with smart game plans. For all the critique of Fury’s game-playing and lack of professionalism, he never actually fails to perform when booked against top talent.

The popular pick at the moment is Usyk, because he’s the consummate professional and Fury’s antics have garner ill will from the general community. None of that matters in the ring though! To my eyes, Fury has the boxing skill to keep up with Usyk, which means the decisive factor is going to be size. Fury may not be able to bully Usyk, but he’ll be able to dictate where the fight takes place enough to outpoint the Ukrainian star.

Prediction: Fury via decision (+210)

Author: Staff

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