JEFF POWELL: Clash of styles will deliver a classic but Tyson Fury’s force can seal the


Perish the thought but it is not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility that the Fight Of The Century will end in a draw.

That the quest for a first new undisputed world heavyweight champion in a quarter of a century will fail to ordain the long-awaited successor to Lennox Lewis. That the pyrotechnics due to raise the curtain on a £150million promotion called the Ring Of Fire will fizzle out into frustration. That what is being announced as the Ultimate Fight will descend into a mire of controversy. That a contest which is viewed by many as too close to call will indeed end in indecision.

The odds against such an unwanted outcome have been shortening day by day. Down to an uncommonly low 12-1 on Friday. Perhaps eight or 10 to one by the time the first bell rings in the Kingdom Arena late on Saturday.

All because of the proliferation of teasing questions swirling around the brilliant attributes of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk which are so diverse that they suggest elite equality of two undefeated champions.

Has the Gypsy King lost too much of that expansive girth of weight following the wake-up call of narrow escape from what would have been a catastrophic upset by UFC legend Francis Ngannou in his last fight here in the rich new mother-lode of boxing?

A clash of styles between Tyson Fury (left) and Oleksandr Usyk (right) should deliver a classic

The fight will see the first undisputed heavyweight champions crowned since Lennox Lewis

The fight will see the first undisputed heavyweight champions crowned since Lennox Lewis

There are a number of unanswered questions on both fighters going into Saturday’s bout

Is the Ukrainian war hero, who has stepped up from being undisputed king of the cruiserweights, too small to bring down the English giant? 

Can Fury, at 35, keep rising like Lazarus from his death bed every time he is knocked down? The way he did from several flattenings by Deontay Wilder, the hardest puncher since Mike Tyson, before finally applying the seal to their epic trilogy.

Does Usyk carry a fatal weakness against body blows? The way it appeared on several occasions even before a referee gave him time to recover from what may or may not have been a low blow landed by Daniel Dubois. Answers on an envelope, please, before 11pm British summer-time on Saturday. Meanwhile, you will have to make do with mine.

Unless Fury has trained more to simply shed poundage than to focus on the detail of the biggest fight of his life, his phenomenal agility for so large a man and his speed of foot and fist seem to have been restored to pristine order by his months of preparation during more delays than a No 9 bus. That’s the way it looked in his open workout on a starlit Thursday night in the desert.

Usyk, not least in his two bedazzlings of Anthony Joshua, keeps proving that alert intelligence, adroit movement and lightning punches from unusual angles can neutralise height and power.

‘Size matters,’ insists Tyson. ‘Not against me it doesn’t,’ counters Olexsandr.

If Fury could carry on getting up after being battered semi-conscious by Wilder, it is unlikely Usyk can put him down for keeps.

Not even Lewis, in his keenness for it to be a fellow Englishman who inherits his throne, believes Usyk will be crumpled by attacks to the body. Patting his own abdomen, kept steel-solid by training after retirement, he says: ‘For a fight of this magnitude, Usyk will have worked to ensure that this core to everything fighters do is hard and ready.’

Lewis (pictured) hopes Fury will win but does not buy that Usyk will be damaged by body shots

Lewis (pictured) hopes Fury will win but does not buy that Usyk will be damaged by body shots

Given how often Fury got up against Wilder, it is unlikely Usyk can put him down for keeps

Given how often Fury got up against Wilder, it is unlikely Usyk can put him down for keeps

No matter how many videos you watch, you never know everything about the man coming from the opposite corner until you are alone with him and the referee in the ring. He who is cleverest in analysing the chess match of the wary opening skirmishes will be at an advantage in the subsequent rounds. 

Then, while even the incredibly fast-for-a-heavyweight Fury cannot be quite as quick as Usyk, he should also be able to impose his still-formidable size by leaning on and shoving him around. If Oleksandr tires, Tyson does have the punch to put him away.

The psychological contrast is equally if not more fascinating. Usyk can be as quirkily humorous as he is profound in study of his battles, be they at the front line alongside his comrades in Ukraine or in the ring.

His understanding of how victory here can uplift the morale of his nation’s soldiers over there adds motivation to his desire to make boxing history.

There is a cold, calm intensity about him as he says: ‘I will win for myself, my family, my legacy, my country.’

Fury veers between the loud but articulate showman in public and being philosophical in private about life in all its triumphs and tragedies. Also a walking encyclopaedia of boxing. He puts his mental health history behind him when he goes to work, saying: ‘I love boxing partly because I feel bulletproof in the ring.’ He revels in the moment of fame and glory but when the job is done, he goes home to a quiet life.

‘Once I win this fight and prove myself the greatest heavyweight in the world, I’ll go back to Morecambe and reward myself by taking my dog for a walk,’ he says.

For that enjoyment he will escape the madding crowd. He explains: ‘People are always coming up to me wherever I go. My dog is a big Rottweiler. He’s good with people but I don’t want anyone inventing that he’s done something wrong, because they want to sue me. So we have a secret walk. It’s a few miles but it’s so hidden that hardly anyone goes there. I can be alone with the most loyal friend a man can have.’

Fury has said that after the fight he is going to celebrate by going home to Morecambe and walking his dog

Fury has said that after the fight he is going to celebrate by going home to Morecambe and walking his dog

The dog’s name is Cash. Not inappropriate since its owner is about to be paid a ball-park £100m for one fight. Usyk’s purse, by the way, is a minimum £35m. Not to be sneezed at.

As the pair of them go for all the alpha-belts, Lewis and Evander Holyfield will be sitting together ringside. Remembering no doubt that their equally ballyhooed first fight all those 25 years ago ended in a draw vehemently disputed, which most observers believe Lennox won.

And the immediate rematch which some thought Evander won but at the end of which Lewis was awarded the decision, which gave him all three major titles on offer at that time.

Fury and Usyk bring a clash of styles which should be the basis for a modern classic and which should settle their argument first time around, even though a rematch is contracted for the autumn whatever the result.

Fury needs to think about a knockout, given Usyk delivers a high punch rate in his fights

Fury needs to think about a knockout, given Usyk delivers a high punch rate in his fights

Fury is classified as an orthodox left-hand lead boxer but he frequently switches to a right jab. Usyk is a committed southpaw. The Gypsy King adds genuine heavyweight punching to his considerable skills. The Ukrainian role model is the master technician of the modern era. Each is an imaginative tactician.

Both are deeply religious. Fury Roman Catholic, Usyk Orthodox Christian. I believe that between them they can call down enough divine power to deliver unto us a fight for the ages complete with the decisive result God’s own world desires.

Since Usyk tends to a high punch rate, Fury — to be secure in case the judges might find against him — needs to think in terms of a knockout. I think he can inflict that history-making stoppage, albeit it late, since both have deep reserves of stamina.

Walk the dog, Tyson. Walk the dog.



Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More