By: Sean Crose
It may end up having been the single most relevant fight of 2022. After winning the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles off of Anthony Joshua close to a year ago, Oleksandr Usyk successfully defended those belts against the same Joshua in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. It was a good fight, frankly, more exciting and suspenseful than the first. Where Joshua was simply outboxed in the initial fight, Joshua once again showed in the rematch he’s able to change and grow as a fighter. He was more aggressive against Usyk this time around. What’s more, he employed all important head and body movement, which prevented him from being an easy target.
Still, it wasn’t enough. Usyk, who was rattled pretty badly in the ninth round, came roaring back in the 10th, landing nasty punches on his opponent’s face with regularity. After the final bell, the judges ruled it a split decision in favor of Usyk and Joshua responded by dropping two of the title belts out of the ring and onto the arena floor. He then left the ring, only to return to grab a microphone and engage in an impromptu speech that, as the minutes wore on, seemed to morph into a stream of conscious monologue about Usyk – who he praised – himself, and the Ukraine War. This led to some outrage in the fight world, though the man had just been through a dramatic experience and had also taken some serious blows to the head.
Once Usyk was able to speak, he mentioned how he fought for his Ukrainian homeland, which is currently under invasion by Russian forces. He then went on to say he wanted to face the only remaining major world heavyweight titlist besides himself. “I’m sure,” he said, “that Tyson Fury is not retired yet. I’m sure, I’m convinced, he wants to fight me. I want to fight him, and if I’m not fighting Tyson Fury, I’m not fighting at all.”
Fury himself went on to respond on social media.
“Both of them were shite!” he said of the fight. “It was one of the worstest heavyweight title fights I have ever seen! It was bullshit! I would annihilate both of them on the same night. Fucking shite! Get your fucking checkbook out, because ‘The Gypsy King’ is here to stay forever!”
Needless to say, a Fury-Usyk bout for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world would be a legitimate megafight, one which would bring in a great many dollars. It’s doubtful either Usyk or Fury would object to that.
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