Unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk is being counted out as having any chance of holding his unified heavyweight title against WBC champ Tyson Fury on May 18th, live on DAZN (worldwide).
Tim Bradley, Paulie Malignaggi and Chris Algieri all believe that Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) will have too much size talent and will show that at 35-years-old, he’s not the washed-up fighter that he appeared to be in his last fight against Francis Ngannou last October.
It’s easy to predict what Fury’s game plan for this fight will be, as it’s the same one he’s been using consistently since his fight with Wladimir in 2015.
Fury’s path to victory: Maul
1. Grab Usyk each time he throws
4. Throw clubbing shots
5. Roughhouse tactics: rabbit punches, elbows, and low blows
6. Rinse & repeat
Fury’s Favoritism Fueled by Doubts
The general consensus from those three is that Fury underperforms when he’s expected to win but rises to the occasion and looks like 24K gold when he’s doubted.
The only problem with that is Fury’s resume is so weak. There were only two guys he fought where there were doubts about him winning: Deontay Wilder and 40-year-old Wladimir Klitschko.
Other than them, Fury’s best victories were Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora. These aren’t exactly cutting-edge heavyweights, are they?
It would be great if Fury were providing doubters wrong against talented opposition, but when the only two instances where he did that were against an old Wladimir at the very end of his career and a one-dimensional Deontay Wilder, you can’t say that Tyson has proven doubters wrong at any point.
You can say he’s unproven, and his resume is weak, with his best wins against Wilder and Klitschko.
Tyson’s size viewed as key
“Fury should be able to win handily. It shouldn’t be a difficult fight for him,” said Tim Bradley to ProBox TV, talking about his belief that WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury should be able to defeat IBF, WBA & WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk.
“He’s bigger, longer, he can box outside, he can pressure, he can maul on the inside, where Usyk, I feel, is weak on the inside, he can go down to the body with conviction,” Bradley continued.
“So, I think there’s a lot of things that Tyson Fury should be able to do against Usyk, but that’s why we fight the fights. We shall see.”
“Tyson Fury is a guy that has looked a lot better when his back is against the wall when people were doubting him,” said Paulie Malignaggi, without giving an example of which fights he’s talking about.
Malignaggi doesn’t say which fight on Fury’s resume where people were doubting him, aside from 40-year-old Wladimir Klitschko, who was at the end of his career, and Deontay Wilder, a badly flawed fighter who was never great.
Fury was arguably knocked out by Wilder in their first fight in 2018 and knocked out in the third clash with a slow count by the referee. Apart from an old Wladimir and a mediocre Wilder, what fight was Fury doubted?
Where are the great wins on Fury’s resume where he proved his doubters wrong? Malignaggi doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Hopefully, he’s not saying people doubt Fury against the journeymen Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte because those were always gimmes.
Fury rises to the occasion when doubted
“When he’s expected to do well, he’s typically given subpar performances against Wallin, Francesco Pianeta, and even the [Francis] Ngannou fight recently,” said Malignaggi about Fury.
“When he’s expected to do good, he sort of mentally doesn’t take the same approach. I think physically, he might, but mentally, he’s not there. When you put Fury in situations where people start doubting him, you think of the Klitschko fight. You think the Wilder fights, and then all of a sudden, you see him in a better situation where he looks almost unbeatable.”
Again, the only two opponents where Fury was doubted in his career were against Wladimir and Wilder. When the only times Fury has proven doubters wrong were against those guys, you can’t use that as an argument for why he’ll beat Usyk.
It would mean something if Fury rose to the occasion and beat Jared Anderson, Zhilei Zhang, Anthony Joshua, and Filip Hrgovic, but NOT an old Wladimir and an uncoordinated Wilder.
“So, I think from a mentality standpoint, you’re going to see Fury channel himself and hone in because everybody is doubting himself after the Ngannou fight and is taking on perhaps the toughest fight of his career, Oleksandr Usyk. So, it’s going to be a tough fight,” said Malignaggi.
Has Fury’s lifestyle caught up to him?
“The wildcard for me is has he gone to the well too many times? Has he blown up and gotten away from it too many times? Can he keep coming back in his mid-30s like he was earlier in his career?” said Malignaggi.
It’s fair to say that Fury’s habit of binge eating may have finally caught up to him, as he looked old, fat, and terrible in his controversial ten round split decision victory over Francis Ngannou last October.
When you’re stuffing rich foods down your gullet, this is what happens. You get worked over by a novice. Age was also a major factor in Fury’s performance, as it will against Usyk. He’s an old 35.
That performance was a product of age and poor health. We probably would have noticed the problem in 2022 if Fury had fought quality opposition instead of the British journeymen Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora.
Fury was able to disguise his physical decline by fighting Whyte & Chisora because they were poor heavyweights who had no business fighting for a world title, but Tyson wanted them because they were easy and fans in the UK would buy it.
“I always had Fury over Usyk, and after the Usyk fight, there were a lot of questions. Also, Usyk didn’t look great against [Daniel] Dubois [lasts August],” said Chris Algieri.
Will size help Tyson?
“Is there a path to victory for Usyk? Of course, he’s a phenomenal fighter. There’s a reason why we’re talking about him at #3 pound-for-pound. The guy is an excellent fighter and a great competitor,” said Algieri.
“Tyson Fury, not only is he at that level, and he’s also huge, but he’s also a wild card. We don’t know which version of Fury is going to show up, but if we go historically. When his back is against the wall, he steps up big time and puts on great performances.
“I think we’re going to see that again. I think Tyson has a little bit left, at least one more where he’s going to be able to go back to that well one more time and pull out the big win and do it in impressive fashion.”
Size could help if Fury can grab Usyk and maul him all night, but it’s questionable whether it will. For Fury to be able to maul Usyk, he’ll need to miss a lot with his shots and stand stationary so he can be grabbed.
If Usyk moves, it’s going to be impossible for Fury to hold, and that’s the only strategy he has of winning because he can’t box and he has no power, apart from clubbing rabbit punches to the back of his opponent’s heads.
“That fight is going to be fun to watch because I want to see the moment because Usyk always switches gears and tries to win,” said Aligeri. ‘That didn’t work. I’m going to try this.’ I want to see that moment where Usyk resigns and goes, ‘I can’t beat this guy tonight.’
“That’s going to be something for me where I’m like, ‘Wow, okay. That’s going to be the #1 thing I look for in that fight when I think it’s going to be interesting to watch, but regardless, I’ve got Tyson Fury winning that fight and pretty handily,” said Algieri.