Sympathy for Ukraine behind Usyk's razor-thin split decision win claims Fury

Rematch on the cards after judges make Usyk the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in almost 25 years

By Reuters

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Oleksandr Usyk in action against Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. - reuters
Oleksandr Usyk in action against Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. - reuters

Published: Sun 19 May 2024, 11:28 AM

Last updated: Sun 19 May 2024, 11:32 AM

Heavyweight Tyson Fury said sympathy for Ukraine was behind the judges' awarding a razor-thin split decision victory to Oleksandr Usyk in their heavyweight title fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday, with the Briton calling for an immediate rematch.

After cruising through the middle of the fight, Fury never recovered from a standing eight count in the ninth round, and the judges gave the fight to Usyk, making him the first undisputed heavyweight champion in almost 25 years.


Tyson Fury in lost a split-decision against Oleksandr Usy. - Reuters
Tyson Fury in lost a split-decision against Oleksandr Usy. - Reuters

The 37-year-old Ukrainian is the first boxer to hold all four major heavyweight belts at the same time and the first undisputed champ since the end of Lennox Lewis' reign in April 2000.

"Thank you so much. ... It's a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country. ... It's a great time, it's a great day," a tearful Usyk said in a post-fight interview.


Oleksandr Usyk was the aggressor in the final rounds against Tyson Fury. - Reuters
Oleksandr Usyk was the aggressor in the final rounds against Tyson Fury. - Reuters

"I believe I won that fight. I believe he won a few of the rounds but I won the majority of them .... His country's at war, and people are siding with the country at war, but make no mistake, I won that fight," Fury said in a post-fight interview in the ring.

Ukraine has been fighting a Russian invasion that started more than two years ago.

"I'll be back. I've got a rematch clause," the previously undefeated Fury added, with promoter Frank Warren saying in the ring another fight between the two was a certainty.

"That's what the contract says. It's what he wants. It's his call, it's Tyson's call. So whatever he wants to do, it's up to him," Warren said.

After an intriguing 12-round battle that saw both men enjoy success, plenty of boxing fans would relish the chance to see the pair go at it again, especially after Usyk managed to turn the tide.

Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion. - Reuters
Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion. - Reuters

"We'll go back to our families and I'll see him again in October. We'll go back, and rest up. I believe I won the fight but I'm not going to sit and cry and make excuses. We'll run it again in October," Fury said.

Asked if he would be prepared to face Fury again, Usyk, who did not respond directly to Fury's claim, was unequivocal.

"Yes, of course," the 37-year-old Ukrainian said.

In the co-main event, Australia's Jai Opetaia won a unanimous decision over Mairis Briedis of Latvia to win the vacant IBF cruiserweight title, and Ireland's Anthony Cacace scored a TKO win over Joe Cordina of Wales to retain his IBO super-featherweight title and claim the IBF belt.


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