Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fury vs Usyk: Oleksandr Usyk is sensational but Tyson Fury could expose vulnerability, says Andy Clarke -Dlight News

Sky Sports Boxing expert Andy Clarke casts his eye over Saturday’s undisputed world title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, discussing the notable size difference and a rare clash of styles in the history of heavyweight boxing…

When Usyk stepped up to heavyweight we all suspected that he would be a force. I did think at that stage what would happen if these two collided. And I’ve always felt Fury is good enough to make his size count, which is something other people have found hard to do against Usyk.

But people talk about Usyk like he’s some kind of undersized tiny heavyweight. He’s a very solid 220lbs, Mike Tyson was basically that way when he became undisputed. I know it’s back in the day and things have changed, but 220 is a good, solid weight.

He’s plenty big enough and punches plenty hard enough, but Fury will be likely about 50lbs heavier, and he can make it count. But, having said that, the fight against Francis Ngannou did make me feel this is going to be a close fight. It wasn’t a good performance by Fury, but it could be the best thing to have happened – for him to refocus.

Or it could be that he’s on the decline, because that can happen in your mid-to-late 30s. I would make him a favourite, but I think it’s a close fight.

It’s different to undisputed heavyweight contests of the past. For the reason that in heavyweight boxing, you do often get early finishes and the knockout can really come in one of two ways. Generally speaking, when you break it down, either you get hit with one you don’t really see, you’re not really braced for and it can be a single shot. And if that happens, anyone can go. Everybody tells you that, everyone agrees on that.

Or you get more of a fatigue knockout where it’s deep in a fight, energy levels are low and one fighter catches the other and neither has really got anything left and that one clean shot is enough.

With these two, I just do not see that first kind of knockout. I think they’re too alert and too aware to get caught with something that big that early that they don’t see. A late stoppage is not out of the question, but we may well be looking at a full-distance, quite technical fight and one that will come down to really fine margins.

It might not be heavyweight boxing as we know it and that casual fans would expect it to be, just because the skill level of these two is pretty extraordinary. Usyk simply is a sensational technical fighter and so is Fury, who is massive as well. It’s a rare kind of match-up.

There is a vulnerability to the body of Usyk, because we have seen that in the amateurs, I remember seeing a reel before he boxed Anthony Joshua where he did feel it to the body and had problems to the body. People will look at what happened against Daniel Dubois and use that as further evidence, though for me there’s no doubt that was a foul because his belt was sitting on top of his protector. If you get hit on the protector then it’s a foul, that’s just the definition of it.

But I think people have taken more encouragement from that. He has been hurt to the body, so it’s reasonable to think that it can happen again.

I don’t think either of them really have obvious weaknesses. Usyk is a very difficult person to hit with a combination, fighters who are good defensively, who are skilful in attack and defence are very difficult to hit with a combination. You might hit them with a single shot, but to follow up with a second and third almost never happens.

I think, whoever it may be, will be a worthy undisputed heavyweight champion. When you look back and you trace the lineage, obviously if you go back in the day, then there was only one title, one champion. Undisputed wasn’t a word that we used because there was no need for it, it was completely redundant.

But then you get the fight between Cassius Clay as he was then and Sonny Liston, the first fight was for the WBC and the WBA and then for the second fight one of the belts got taken out. From that point onwards, undisputed became this thing. Joe Frazier did it, George Foreman did it, Muhammad Ali managed to do it. Then nobody did it until Mike Tyson did it.

It’s a really, really difficult thing to do, so if you do manage to do it, whatever people think about your opposition, you have to be given enormous credit for it. But when it comes to these two, they are two outstanding fighters. Usyk has beaten Joshua twice – the criticism Joshua gets is absurd in my opinion – and Fury had the trilogy against Deontay Wilder that again was epic stuff.

I absolutely think whoever wins this fight, which I think we’ll see again, is 100 per cent worthy of taking their place in the pantheon.

It’s one of the biggest sporting events in a generation. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide for the undisputed world heavyweight championship on Saturday May 18, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book the fight now.

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