Oleksandr Usyk defeats Tyson Fury and becomes undisputed heavyweight champion | boxing news

Usyk of Ukraine defeated Fury of the United Kingdom by split decision to become the first fighter to unify the title since 1999.

Oleksandr Usyk defeated Tyson Fury by scoring a split decision to win the first undisputed world heavyweight championship in 25 years, an unprecedented feat in boxing’s four-belt era.

UK’s Fury was the first aggressor, but Usyk gradually took command and the “Gypsy King” was saved by the bell in the ninth round before falling to the first defeat of his career on Sunday.

Ukraine’s Usyk joins the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson as undisputed heavyweight champion, the first since boxing recognized four major belts in the 2000s.

With the win, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion can legitimately claim to be the best of this era, although an expected rematch in October could put another spin on it.

Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion (Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters)

Britain’s Lennox Lewis was the last man to unify the heavyweight belts (three at the time) after beating Evander Holyfield in 1999.

Usyk got the better of the early rounds before Fury accelerated in the fourth, putting on something of a show as he began to trap Usyk with ferocious body shots, but the Ukrainian fought back with several stinging reminders of his power.

Usyk turned the tide in the eighth round and few would have been surprised if the referee had stopped the fight in the ninth when the Ukrainian’s powerful blows to the head left Fury reeling.

The previously undefeated Brit managed to hold on until the bell, but struggled during the final three rounds of the fight as Usyk chased him to get the better of him on the judges’ scorecards.

“Thank you very much. … It’s a great opportunity for me, for my family, for my country. … It’s a great moment, it’s a great day,” Usyk said through tears in a post-fight interview in the ring, adding that would grant Fury an immediate rematch.

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. Meanwhile, Ireland’s Anthony Cacace earned a TKO victory over Joe Cordina of Wales to retain his IBO super featherweight title and claim the IBF belt.

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