Oleksandr Usyk beats Tyson Fury to be undisputed world heavyweight champion in Riyadh

Usyk secures victory over Fury on the judges count after pulsating encounter at the Kingdom Arena

Oleksandr Usyk punches Tyson Fury during the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO and Undisputed Heavyweight titles' fight. Getty
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Oleksandr Usyk created boxing history as he defeated Tyson Fury in an enthralling bout at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh to be crowned the undisputed world heavyweight champion.

In what was the first undisputed heavyweight world title fight of the four-belt era, they fought all 12 rounds and only the judges could separate them.

Fury and Usyk hugged at the end as they waited for the judges’ decision and victory for Usyk. Usyk won 115-112 and 114-113 on two cards while Fury took the other 114-113. Boxing fans had waited a long time for the highly anticipated contest as it was postponed earlier in the year when the British fighter suffered a serious cut during training.

Fury was the early aggressor but Usyk gradually took charge. Fury was saved by the bell in the ninth round before slumping to his first career defeat.

Usyk landed left hands to the body and head in the seventh and the round ended with him taking control of the fight.

The Ukrainian took his revival into the eighth as he continued to land with hard shots, including one right on the nose to leave Fury touching his nose and right eye.

Fury was no longer moving with ease and after taking a right hook he was in serious trouble, Usyk unloading freely but somehow his opponent stayed on his feet.

By the final round, Fury needed something special but it did not come.

The stakes were very high for the biggest boxing bout of this century. Englishman Fury entered the contest holding the WBC title, yet to taste defeat in his 35-fight professional career, while his Ukrainian challenger Usyk held the other three belts – WBA, WBO and IBF – and also arrived with an impeccable record of 21-0 with 14 KOs.

The last time boxing's top division had an undisputed champion was in 1999 when Lennox Lewis won all three world titles. Since then, the WBO was elevated to full world title status and Saturday was the first occasion when two heavyweight champions fought for all four belts.

Anticipation for bout had been building up for a long time, with the narrative shifting after Fury struggled against MMA fighter Francis Ngannou in October.

Usyk, moving up from cruiserweight, was taking on a much bigger opponent but had triumphed against bigger opponents, beating the towering Anthony Joshua twice.

Promoter Frank Warren had called the contest the “most important fight of the 21st century”. And it surely lived up to that billing.

Updated: May 19, 2024, 1:07 AM