Usyk – a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion – prevailed in a fight of two halves at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena, propelling himself into the conversation to be considered an all-time great.

After a lack of buzz and noise in the arena for the undercard, not unusual for a Saudi card, a crowd of 20,000 that included famous faces such as Cristiano Ronaldo found their voice for the main event.

Usyk – resembling a warrior – made his entrance wearing a striking all-green traditional Ukrainian outfit, his eyes fixated on the ring.

In contrast to Usyk’s sternness, a playful Fury sang and danced to Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero.

He raced to the ring and headed straight to Usyk’s corner and goaded his opponent, to the enjoyment of 2,500 travelling British fans.

As the two champions advanced to the centre of the ring at the chime of the first bell, the painstakingly long wait to crown an undisputed champion was about to end.

Usyk landed a solid left hook and backed Fury into the corner in the first, which the Gypsy King dismissively laughed off.

He responded with two painful-looking uppercuts to Usyk’s midriff in the second. Trainer SugarHill Steward asked Fury for “more body shots” in the corner in between rounds and the fighter obliged.

The height and reach advantage of Fury was posing too much of a puzzle for Usyk to solve, or so it seemed.

An uppercut in the sixth staggered Usyk as Lennox Lewis, the division’s last undisputed champion in the three-belt era, and fellow former champions Larry Holmes and Evander Holyfield watched Fury assert his dominance.

Usyk has been guilty of starting slowly in the past, and he began to find success with his left hand in the sixth.

“You’ve got to work now, Tyson,” a member of Fury’s team shouted.

Their concerns were warranted as Usyk caught his opponent with several left hands over the top two rounds later.

A dazed Fury staggered around the ring – seemingly out on his feet – and into the ropes. He was given a 10 count before the bell rang.

This was not the boring, tactical, chess-like match-up some pundits predicted but a barnstormer, living up to the pre-fight hype from fans and promoters.

Another bruising left hand caught Fury in the 11th. The pair touched gloves before the 12th – there was a feeling there was still all to play for.

But it was a spirited Usyk who may have just edged a competitive final round, and ultimately perhaps that got him across the winning line.



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