No Faceoff Before The Ring of Fire: Usyk vs. Fury Kingdom Arena Presser, 10 Bout Preview and Predictions


By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (May 17th, 2024)–   In the Ring of Fire’ card, first blood has been drawn in the Tyson Fury, 34-0-1 with 24 knockouts, Morecambe, United Kingdom, versus Oleksandr Usyk, 21-0 with 14 knockouts, Oxnard, California by way of Ukraine. In the World Heavyweight title unification buildup, with Tyson Fury’s father, 13 pro bouts heavyweight boxing veteran of the ring ‘Gypsy’ John Fury. head butting a member of the Oleksandr Usyk camp, and winding up with a bloody forehead at the first press conference of fight week leading up to the ten bout card on Saturday evening, May 18, 2024, at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Now, in the tense faceoff on Thursday, May 16, 2024, Tyson Fury looked away as Usyk tried to stare him down in what emerged as no faceoff before the ultimate heavyweight unification bout. Fury told Sky sports after the non-confrontation “He (Usyk) is a scary looking dude. I’m just here to relax now and wait until I get into the ring on Saturday night. All the talking is done. All the interviewing is done. I’m really relaxed and focused (on Saturday evening’s heavyweight bout with Usyk).”

To which Usyk replied “I’m excited. Let’s make history.”

Fury responded to Usyk in brief. “I’ll make it short and sweet. I want to thank Usyk for challenging me. I aim to put on a show. I’m ready. (I) Got nothing to say, apart from I’m ready for a good fight. If it’s tough or easy, either way, I’m ready!”

Usyk replied with a final word “Let your hands talk in the ring (Mine will).”

Fury and Usyk are predicted to fight to a majority draw. Knockdowns could affect scoring. Fouls are not anticipated. Fury and Usyk fight cleanly. Usyk has claimed low blows in the past, as his did in his bout with Daniel Dubois, which included a controversial non-knockdown. Usyk will probably not be able to claim a borderline low blow against Fury.

This bout is perhaps the most important heavyweight bout since Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier for the first time in Madison Square Garden over half a century ago. That was a 15 round bout to resolve the issue of two undefeated world heavyweight champions, Frazier the current and Ali the stripped former champion. Here, Fury and Usyk will go 12 rounds to unify their various world heavyweight championship belts.

All five important world heavyweight titles-International Boxing Federation, International Boxing Organization, World Boxing Organisation, World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association will be at stake. At 6’9″ with an 85 inch reach, Fury has size and reach advantage. Fury is not, however, the sort of fight on the inside technical boxer the 6’3″ southpaw Usyk is. Usyk has only a 78 inch reach, which will force him to fight on the inside Rocky Marciano style to have any chance of outpointing Fury. Usyk, at age 37, is two years older than Fury, who has 14 more pro bouts of experience. Fury will outweigh Usyk by over 50 pounds.

Usyk will have to outbox Fury Billy Conn and Michael Spinks style. Evander Holyfield passed through the cruiserweights. Usyk’s remarkable transition to heavyweight is marked by a sparkling consistent work rate in three bouts against Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois. Usyk came out on top of Joshua on five of six scorecards. Three scorecards went 115-113, 115-113, and 113-115, and his bout with Fury, given his technical expertise, could be close.

Fury has to outwork a superior technical opponent. Knockdowns could occur, however I find it hard to believe Fury could outwork Usyk. He could overpower him along the ropes and in clichés. Usyk is unlikely to show defensive flaws. Fury is in for the fight of his life. Usyk will need to out jab and outwork Fury, whose game plan will consistent of pinpoint body power shots. Fury will need to outwork Usyk in seven of 12 hard fought rounds. To this reporter, this bout is very similar to the Anthony Joshua bouts.

The 12 rounds between Fury and Usyk will be a highly technical, at times bruising affair. Saudi Arabia is considered neutral ground, and this benefits Usyk. However, Fury has experience fighting in the kingdom. Whichever fighter controls the ring tempo and has the superior game plan wins. The point is power is not enough for Fury in this type of technical bout. Trainer Sugar Hill will have Fury well-prepared for combination exchanges. Much will hinge of how Fury deals with Usyk’s technical jab attacks, and how well Usyk counter Fury’s power shots. Overall, a very close and exciting bout. Rocky Marciano outworked Ezzard Charles. Usyk will have to work harder than Marciano against an opponent like Fury of superior size and reach. This has not stopped Usyk before. A knockdown, or knockout, if it occurs, favors Fury. Usyk knocked out Dubois, though Fury has a huge heart and brings a whole higher level of experience and competitiveness to the ring. A great double challenge for both combatants worthy of the contracted mandatory rematch. At age 37, the time for Usyk to catch Fury is probably best now rather than later. Usyk has not shown any flaws. Fury will have to find them to win in a long bout in the later stage championship rounds.


Robert Brizel Kingdom Arena Riyadh Predictions:

Oleksandr Usyk Majority Draw 12 Tyson Fury, Heavyweights

Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship Unification Bout

Knockdowns will affect scoring. Technical points war game plan to be attempted by Usyk.

Joe Cordina Win 12 Anthony Cacace, Super Featherweights

IBF and IBO World Super Featherweight Championship Unification Bout

First bout for both British combatants on neutral foreign soil. Edge to Cordina. Close bout.

Jai Opetaia TKO 11 Mairis Briedis, Cruiserweights

Vacant International Boxing Federation World Cruiserweight Championship

In rematch, aging ex-world Cruiserweight champion Breidis, age 39, would need a knockout somehow to win, but is suffering from 22 months inactivity, making that chance remote.

Agit Kabayel KO 10 Frank Sanchez, Heavyweights

In battle of unbeaten heavyweight prospects, a knockout will occur one way or the other.

Sergey Kovalev Win 10 Robin Sirwan Safar, Cruiserweights

Aging inactive ex-light Heavyweight champ Kovalev continuing campaigning at Cruiser.

Isaac Lowe Win 10 Hasibullah Ahmadi, Featherweights

‘Westgate Warrior’ Lowe will be in the fight of his life against unknown 16-1 Hamadi.

Moses Itauma Win 10 Ilja Mezencev, Heavyweights

Vacant WBO Inter-Continental Heavyweight Title

Daniel Lapin Win 10 Octavio Pudivitr, Light Heavyweights

Vacant WBA Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight title

Polish Ukraine fighter Lapin versus Portuguese Mozambique fighter ‘Tank’ Pudivir.

Michael Seitz Win 8 David Nyika, Cruiserweights

Opening bout on Kingdom Arena card. Germany’s Seitz favored over New Zealand’s Nyika.

Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank 

Credit: Top Rank

    •  Tyson Fury 262 lbs. vs. Oleksandr Usyk 233.5 lbs
(Undisputed Heavyweight Championship – 12 Rounds)

   •   Jai Opetaia 198.1 lbs vs. Mairis Briedis 199.1 lbs
(Opetaia’s Ring Magazine & Vacant IBF Cruiserweight World Titles — 12 Rounds)

•   Joe Cordina 130 lbs  vs. Anthony Cacace 129.8 lbs 
(Cordina’s IBF Junior Lightweight World Title — 12 Rounds)

•   Frank Sanchez 238.5 lbs vs. Agit Kabayel 238.5 lbs
(WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator — 12 Rounds)

•  Moses Itauma 239.1 lbs vs. Ilja Mezencev 232.1 lbs 
(Vacant WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Title — 10 Rounds)

•      Mark Chamberlain 134.2 lbs vs. Joshua Oluwaseun
132.1 lbs 
(Vacant WBC Silver Lightweight Title — 12 Rounds)

•  Sergey Kovalev 194.2 lbs vs. Robin Sirwan Safar 194.1 lbs 
(Cruiserweight — 10 Rounds)

•  Daniel Lapin 174.7 lbs vs. Octavio Pudivitr 173.7 lbs 
(Vacant WBA Intercontinental Light Heavyweight Title — 10 Rounds)


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