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FIGHT CLUB | May 20

Fury and Usyk: Where Does Usyk’s Epic Victory Leave the Heavyweight Division?

Oleksandr Usyk Takes the Undisputed Heavyweight Crown Over Tyson Fury

Fury and Usyk: Where Does Usyk’s Epic Victory Leave the Heavyweight Division?
Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk | Fayez NURELDINE / AFP

Historic Fight 🥊

For Usyk, it’s simple: a Fury rematch would be the biggest fight for him…

Where were you on Saturday night? Let me guess; you were sitting in front of your television witnessing heavyweight boxing history as Ukrainian underdog Oleksandr Usyk protected his unbeaten pro record while stealing the 0 of the formerly unbeaten Tyson Fury in the biggest fight of the year!

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Undisputed heavyweight boxing honors have been gifted to Usyk as he triumphed over Fury via split decision to become the first ever to claim all the gold in the four-belt era.

I was shocked at the split result, as it seemed Usyk should’ve taken a unanimous. Many critics hold the same feelings, and some even suggest Fury was gifted an opportunity to continue when the referee stepped in during a ninth-round onslaught, which had the Brit on wobbly legs.

With an event of this caliber, boxing news is still buzzing, and the dust is certainly taking longer to settle than usual. However, with every championship title drooped around the waist of Usyk, where does this leave the heavyweight division’s high-profile bouts moving forward?

 

Usyk vs. Fury II

No matter how you feel about The Gypsy King, there’s no denying that he had his moments during the fight, specifically during the mid-point. It was a competitive bout, and while I believe Usyk should’ve edged it, both men will go home knowing it was a difficult night in the office.

For this reason and more, both should want a rematch. For Fury, it’s the only loss on his record, and he’ll struggle to look beyond any other fight besides Usyk if he at least doesn’t attempt revenge. For Usyk, it’s simple: a Fury rematch would be the biggest fight for him… point blank!

 

AJ and Usyk versus Wilder/Zhang Winner

Naturally, Anthony Joshua and Fury talks will continue. Perhaps, with his first career defeat behind him and no record to protect, opting to chase the AJ fight makes sense. It’s a bout that would generate as much interest as a title fight, and the sportsbooks would likely position him as a favorite.

Elsewhere on the board, Usyk’s options are limited, but we cannot ignore the upcoming clash between Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang. If Fury doesn’t cash in on his rematch clause, the Ukrainian could add a few extra layers to his legacy by taking the winner and beating another heavyweight contender before sailing into the sunset.

Retirement Talks

Of all the potential routes the elite of the heavyweight division take for this weekend’s undisputed challenges, I don’t see anything besides retirement as the most sensible decision.

Call me a buzzkill, whatever, but the reality is Fury and Usyk are aged 35 and 37, respectively. Age isn’t on their side, and why not go out at the top rather than risk tarnishing the legacies built?

Usyk has just finished the lifelong goal of replicating his cruiserweight success as a heavyweight, and as a two-division undisputed champ, what’s left to prove?

Regarding Fury, I’d suggest retirement even more so. We watched The Gypsy King take brutal damage since Deontay Wilder’s bomber in 2018, and everyone since then, despite losing, has damaged him in some facet. Even the pro debut of Francis Ngannou bore witness to a knockdown going against the British legend; how much more can he take?

Without question, Saturday’s fight showed that Fury should consider retirement, if not for his legacy, but for his health. Watching his eyes do roundabouts while Usyk was landing multiple unanswered shots wasn’t pretty, and who knows what will happen next time he steps in the ring.

Of course, I’ll be here for it if the boxing rumors circulate that either Usyk or Fury are scheduled to return. That said, while being the unpopular opinion, the smartest choice would be to see both men sail into the sunset as heavyweight greats.

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