Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk odds & prediction

Here's how we think Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk will play out in Saudi Arabia.
Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk Press Conference
Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk Press Conference / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

The combat sports world will be fixated with its eyes locked on boxing with the undisputed world heavyweight championship on the line. On May 18 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) will challenge Ring Magazine, IBF, WBO, and WBA heavyweight titleholder Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs). The fight will settle the matter as to who is the true and undisputed heavyweight champion. Arguably, the most prestigious title in all of combat sports. 

The undisputed heavyweight championship being on the line in any capacity is rare. It's been almost 25 years since the previous undisputed heavyweight championship bout occurred when Lennox Lewis faced Evander Holyfield in November 1999. It was the second encounter between Lewis and Holyfield, as the first match ended in a controversial draw. Lewis held the distinction as the true heavyweight king until 2003, having regained the title after losing it to Hasim Rahman in 2001. Unfortunately, due to mandatories and boxing politics, Lewis only held the WBC title by the time he stepped in the ring for his final match against Vitali Klitschko. 

Much like the rest of boxing, the heavyweight division has been in disarray for the past two decades. Even Fury's current status as the lineal heavyweight champion has been subject to controversy. After his surprising victory over then-heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, Fury took a 31-month hiatus from the ring, further adding to the division's instability. Fury's return in 2018 resulted in a trilogy of fights with knockout artist Deontay Wilder and cemented him as the premier heavyweight of this generation. But that claim will be on the line against Usyk. 

Fury has been somewhat dismissive about Usyk. He holds significant size advantages in height and weight, standing at 6'9 and weighing at times over 270 pounds, and much like Usyk, Fury is a fighter with a high IQ. He can be, at times, as nimble on his feet as he is ferocious with his attacks. Therefore, he doesn't view him as a legitimate threat to his status as the heavyweight champion.

The odds favor Tyson Fury

The advantages in size may be a factor in the fight's betting odds. DraftKings holds Fury as the slight betting favorite at -120, with Usyk at +100. 

"My personal opinion of it is we have weight divisions for a reason," said Fury at a recent press conference.  And with my being an encyclopedia on boxing and I've studied every heavyweight and cruiserweight that's ever lived, when the cruiserweights step up to the big boys usually they get found wanting. And even the greatest cruiserweight that's ever lived, Evander Holyfield, when he stepped up to the big boys in 'Big Daddy' Bowe and Lennox Lewis, he was found wanting.

"You can beat the average big ones but you can't beat the elite big one because size really matters. We have weight divisions for a reason and he's going to be found wanting when he fights me on May 18."

Most fighters are quiet compared to Fury, and Usyk is no different. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist has expressed himself more in the ring than out through his decade-long career. However, his eccentric personality has led to a few viral moments of hilarity. 

Usyk has spent the majority of his career consistently facing tough competition. By winning the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament, he became the third boxer after Bernard Hopkins and Terence Crawford to unify all four world titles in a division. After a lackluster start at heavyweight, Usyk exceeded expectations when he defeated Anthony Joshua twice, becoming a unified heavyweight titleholder. The fights with Joshua are key to Usyk's potential success against Fury. One of which is that Usyk is not intimidated by Fury. 

"Size doesn't matter," Usyk stated to TNT Sports. "If it did, then the king of animals would be the elephant. I am a heavyweight." 

Prediction: Usyk by unanimous decision. 

The last time Fury faced a southpaw was in 2019 against Otto Wallin. The fight resulted in Fury receiving 47 stitches above his right eye. The eye produces a target for Usyk, but his resolve will be the difference against Fury. In the late rounds against Joshua, when the British power puncher began to take over, Usyk didn't shrink or fold at the moment. He instead battled back, not allowing himself to be overcome by the bigger man.

In the same vein as athletes like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, Usyk has an inert, self-motivating nature that only grows when challenged. He is a winner. And while it seemed like the story of the heavyweight division rested on Fury's shoulders, it will prove to be a chapter in Usyk's ascension to the top of the mountain. Even in rounds where Fury may be pulling ahead, Usyk won't be deterred or discouraged. When pushed, he will push back harder. Usyk will walk away as the undisputed heavyweight champion and boxing's number one pound-for-pound fighter on May 18. 


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