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FURY VS USYK: ‘Most important fight of the 21st century’

FURY VS USYK: ‘Most important fight of the 21st century’

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are both undefeated in their professional boxing careers.

That streak will however come to an end for one of these competitors on Saturday night in Riyadh.

Tonight, the two undefeated fighters will contest the first undisputed heavyweight clash since 1999, looking to walk away with all four major belts.

Promoter Frank Warren called it the “most important fight of the 21st century”.

“It’s the fight we’ve been waiting for – the two best heavyweights in the world, both undefeated,” he said Thursday evening.

READ ALSO: Fury needs multiple game plans to beat Usyk, says Anthony Joshua’s promoter

“This is something special. Fights like [this] come along once in a generation.”

Opinions are split over the outcome, with some tipping the rangy, street-smart “Gypsy King” Fury and others backing the supreme skills and fitness of Usyk.

“Tyson Fury should win on points,” Lewis told the BBC. “The bigger guy has longer arms, great movement.”

However, Tony Bellew, Usyk’s final victim at cruiserweight, warned: “He is the purest and best boxer Fury will ever face in his life.”

“The guy is on another platform. There are boxers and then there is Usyk,” Bellew added.

The final build-up has been explosive at times, including when Fury’s father headbutted a member of Usyk’s entourage and was seen with blood streaming down his face.

However, both fighters were taciturn during the final news conference on Thursday, with Fury promising to pray for Usyk and the Ukrainian scribbling down a poem.

Fury tipped the scales at a bulky 125.9kg (277.7 pounds) against MMA convert Francis Ngannou in October, when he looked sluggish and was knocked down before winning a split decision.

The “Gypsy King” was 112kg (247 pounds) for his biggest victory to date, upsetting Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. His career-lightest weight was 111.3kg (245.5 pounds) for Vinny Maddalone in 2012.

Usyk, a former cruiserweight, had previously been remarkably consistent during his heavyweight career, weighing in at 100.2kg (221 pounds) for his 2021 and 2022 wins over Anthony Joshua, and 99.7kg (220 pounds) against Daniel Dubois last year.

Tales of his training are legendary, including 10-kilometre (6-mile) swims, four-minutes-plus breath-holds, juggling – and catching – six coins at once to demonstrate his reflexes.

With little to choose between them, it may come down to whoever can stay smart and adapt over the 12 scheduled rounds.

On Friday, a shirtless Fury eyeballed the Ukrainian and then pushed him angrily, sparking a brief melee on stage, before hurling a series of swear words at his opponent.

“We’re ready to rock and roll, so fireworks tomorrow night. I’m going knock [him] spark out,” raged the 35-year-old Brit, drawing cheers from the crowd.

“I’m coming for his heart, that’s what I’m coming for. [Forget] his belts. I’m coming for his heart, he’s getting it tomorrow, spark out!”

Fury weighed in at 118.8 kilos (262 pounds), more than 6.8kg (15 pounds) lighter than his last outing, while Usyk was 105.9kg (233.5 pounds), significantly heavier than his customary 100.2kg (221 pounds).

Ukraine’s Usyk, when asked what he had said to Fury, replied: “Don’t be afraid, I won’t leave you tomorrow.”

He said he was able to remain so calm “because that’s my plan. If I’m nervous, I won’t win”.

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