Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk is a classic that deserves a rematch – but feeling is Gypsy King will pick another fight

IF ever a fight demanded a rematch, then it was this instant classic.

Even the clamour for an all-British duel between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will have to quieten down so that the dethroned Gypsy King can get it on again with Oleksandr Usyk, the new undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk put on a show for the ages in their undisputed showdown
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk put on a show for the ages in their undisputed showdownCredit: REUTERS
Their Riyadh rumble had thrills, spills and plenty of showmanship
Their Riyadh rumble had thrills, spills and plenty of showmanshipCredit: REUTERS
Former WBC heavyweight king Fury looked to stay long with his jab and land shots from distance
Former WBC heavyweight king Fury looked to stay long with his jab and land shots from distanceCredit: REUTERS
Usyk did a good job of closing the distance and finding a home for his left hand
Usyk did a good job of closing the distance and finding a home for his left handCredit: PA

Usyk, the fighting pride of war-torn Ukraine, confirmed his status as an all-time great by unifying boxing’s gold-standard division having already done the same at cruiserweight.

All in the space of just 22 professional fights.

A rematch is pencilled in for October, back in Saudi Arabia, though Fury refused to commit to it in the immediate aftermath of his first professional defeat at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena in the early hours of Sunday.

But Fury-Usyk II is what the world is waiting for. Because this fight was a thrilling, white-knuckle ride which fully lived up to its hype and £120million purse.

As Fury put it “we punched the f*** out of each other for 12 rounds — my face is pretty busted up and he’s busted too.”

First, Fury showboated, then he dominated, then he was destroyed by an extraordinary counter-attack from Usyk, which might have seen the fight stopped at the end of the ninth with the Brit flailing on the ropes like a drunken sailor.

Referee Mark Nelson showed leniency — but certainly not clemency — towards Fury, who proved the strength of his jaw and the size of his ticker over the final three rounds.

Just as he had done when poleaxed by Deontay Wilder en route to a draw in the first of his epic trilogy with the Alabama sledgehammer.

This split decision from the judges was harsh on Usyk.

But, outside of that ­explosive bombardment at the end of the ninth, there was nothing to choose between two outstanding technicians who refused to keep it cagey.

No holding, no spoiling, just 12 rounds of brutal, irresistible theatre.

After the judges gave their verdicts, Fury claimed Usyk had got the nod because of a sympathy vote over the Russian invasion of his homeland.

But later, he rode back on that claim. He was black-and-blue, beltless but almost bursting with pride.

It was one of those rare occasions in sport when the loser recognises he has been part of something truly special, in the realisation defeat can be glorious.

And you cannot doubt Fury’s ability to take it on the chin. Certainly not after the clubbing left from Usyk which ignited his demise.

We had waited 25 years, since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield, to witness the coronation of an undisputed heavyweight champion.

Usyk is the first to reign supreme in this division during the four-belt era, adding Fury’s WBC title to his own WBA, IBF and WBO crowns.

And Usyk is an extremely worthy champion — he has class, courage and an obvious human decency which is clear even through his broken English.

And broken English, by the way, is Usyk’s trade. The 37-year-old has now defeated Tony Bellew, Derek Chisora, Joshua twice, Daniel Dubois and Fury in six of his last seven fights.

Fury did, uncharacteristically, admit that his showboating tactics were a mistake.

Tyson Fury hurt Oleksandr Usyk the body nuermous times
Tyson Fury hurt Oleksandr Usyk the body nuermous timesCredit: GETTY
But he was almost taken out in the ninth round
But he was almost taken out in the ninth roundCredit: GETTY

If there were a rematch, the Lancastrian, 35, said: “I think I’d keep my defence a little tighter, more focused and not so much messing around.”

The feeling is that Fury might not take up the rematch option.

That he might meet Joshua next, even with no titles on the line and it no longer being the No 1 must-see contest for British fight fans.

We will soon be back in alphabet-soup territory, with rival governing bodies squabbling over who should fight Usyk, who will not remain undisputed for long.

And it is a shame this weekend’s stirring contest should have been part of Saudi Arabia’s aggressive sportswashing project, where all talk of appalling human-rights records is not tolerated by the regime’s PR attack dogs.

Should Fury take the rematch or fight Joshua, his next contest will surely be back in Saudi.

Saturday night’s show — which had a better atmosphere than previous big fights here, due to a decent turn-out of travelling Brits — will be seen as a major coup for the filthy-rich host nation.

Still, this was a night where politics, both in the fight game and the real world, were forgotten for a brief while as two elite boxers elevated themselves, and their bloody art, to another level.

As Fury pondered his next move, he insisted: “I’m not boxing because I’ve got no money, I’m boxing because I love it.”

In terms of love and money, another crack at Usyk should be his favoured option.

The world patiently awaits the rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury
The world patiently awaits the rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson FuryCredit: GETTY

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk is a classic that deserves a rematch – but feeling is Gypsy King will pick another fight | The Sun

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