Fury vs Usyk boxing tips: EXPERT picks and analysis for ‘The Fight of the Century’

The Kingdom Arena in Riyadh will host a fight for all the heavyweight marbles TONIGHT (Saturday May 18) and the eyes of the boxing world will be watching

The long-awaited clash between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk is finally upon us as these two unbeaten fistic superstars battle it out to determine the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

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Fury is 34-0-1 (24), the lineal heavyweight champion and the WBC belt holder. Ukrainian opponent Usyk 21-0 (14) is the Ring magazine champion and also holds the WBA, IBF and WBO belts.

For the first time since Lennox Lewis’ points victory over Evander Holyfield almost 25 years ago, boxing’s blue riband division is set to have just one recognised champion. It is a contest which will define an era.

Fight week in Riyadh started controversially when Fury’s dad John Fury appeared to headbutt a member of Usyk’s entourage as an ugly clash overshadowed the pre-fight media day on Monday. Amid unsavoury scenes, Fury Sr was later pictured with blood coming from a head wound after security stepped in to prevent any further incidents.

It is said that when heavyweight boxing is strong, the rest of boxing is too. For this reason alone, one hopes we get a conclusive winner on Saturday and that the result is not controversial.

Fury vs Usyk analysis

Speaking of the result, the sharps are struggling to split them, with Fury a top price Evens for the win at time of writing while Usyk is 11/10. The draw, which cannot be ruled out given how brilliant both protagonists are at their best, is a general 16/1 poke and might be a popular bet with punters as the fight draws closer.

Usyk is an Olympic gold medallist and has already cleaned up as a unified cruiserweight champion since turning pro in 2013. However, he is perhaps best known for his two battles with Anthony Joshua. Their first fight on 25 September 2021 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium saw Usyk – who went in as a betting underdog – win pretty conclusively by unanimous decision.

READ MORE: How Usyk beats Fury – big-fight analysis

They went at it again on a bill dubbed ‘Rage on the Red Sea’ on 20 August 2022 at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. AJ was much more competitive this time round, but Usyk won the 12-rounder via split decision, with scores of 116–112 and 115–113 in his favour, and 115–113 in favour of Joshua.

In his last fight Usyk stopped ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois in the ninth, but that fight was not without controversy due to what happened in the fifth round, when the Ukrainian dropped to the canvas following a punch from Dubois which was controversially ruled a low blow by referee Luis Pabon.

These days all the pound-for-pound chat is about Terence Crawford and Naoya Inoue. However, there is a legitimate case that Usyk is the best ‘pound-for-pound’ fighter in the world right now based on skills and achievements, and if he topples Fury then I am not sure anyone will be able to put him below anybody any longer. 

Usyk style

Usyk is a classic boxer who has fast hands and throws short, straight, crisp punches. He throws punches in bunches and his footwork is magnificent. Style-wise he could be all wrong for ‘The Gypsy King’, a fighter whose physically imposing, grappling style requires an opponent to be flat-footed.

Usyk is the smaller man but is not that small for a heavyweight.

For context, back in the day George Foreman was considered a big heavyweight. As per Boxrec, Foreman in his prime was 6’3″ and weighed between 220 and 230 pounds.

Usyk as a heavyweight is 6’3″ and 220 pounds, which is certainly comparable to Big George.

Usyk has had to get used to punching up to a target since his move to heavyweight and he has done just fine thus far, but Fury is the biggest man he has ever faced (there will be a six-inch height disparity) and definitely the most skilled.

Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 Press Conference
Usyk has already defeated one much bigger man in Anthony Joshua (Matchroom Boxing Photos).

Fury unorthodox

Fury is so unorthodox. He is something the heavyweight division has just not seen before. He is one of the biggest heavyweight champions in history in terms of his dimensions yet when he is in the mood he can move like a middleweight. 

Team Usyk will know they need to somehow get Fury on the back foot and use educated pressure to rack up the points round after round. Indeed, while all result methods are possible here the Usyk to win by KO or TKO seems the least likely and is a top price 11/2 with UK oddsmakers.

The jab could be key. It looks like Fury is going to come in lighter than he has for recent contests and if he does this will be because the plan is to move more and not stand and try to have a war.

READ MORE: How Fury beats Usyk – big-fight analysis

Usyk’s jab is a real weapon, and he used it to great effect against Dubois last time out, as well as in those two fights with AJ. The Ukraine master often doubles and trebles the jab, using elite footwork to avoid shots coming back. He looked really sharp against Dubois, and lives the life so can still compete at this type of level at the age of 37.

Tyson meanwhile went tooth and nail against boxing novice (but former UFC champion) Francis Ngannou when they met in a crossover bout last October. Fury was certainly undercooked for that one and probably convinced himself Ngannou would be light work, but if he has the same attitude here, he is not winning the fight.

Tyson Fury Anthony Joshua vs Francs Ngannou Riyadh Saudi Arabia March 8 2024
World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury speaks to media at the Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8, 2024 (Photo – Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing).

Fury vs Usyk verdict

Fury has labelled Usyk “the rabbit” but there is no doubt he respects him and knows he is in a proper fight this weekend. However all through the build-up to this super fight, ‘The Gypsy King’ has maintained size does matter and that there are weight divisions for a reason.

As good as Usyk is, there is a feeling he will not be able to overcome Tyson’s physical advantages and so the smart play in terms of a betting angle might be Fury via decision or technical decision at 9/4.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk Tips and Picks

Fury to win via decision or technical decision at 9/4 (Hills)