Boxing is the world’s most popular combat sport, and that’s been the case for generations. The emergence and growth of mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship suggested the noble art would lose its place as the number one combat sport for spectators, but it silenced its critics by going from strength to strength. Professional boxing is stronger than before the pandemic, and much of that success is due to the heavyweight division.
The most famous category in boxing is heavyweight. It’s the highest division where the biggest and best clash for major titles. Few bouts travel the scheduled distance and test the ringside judges due to the top fighters’ ambition, power, and speed. If you love boxing and want quick knockouts, unpredictable bouts, and some colorful characters, the heavyweights have your back. If you haven’t watched a fight from the top division since the pandemic, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Heavyweight boxing is a darling of the top sports betting sites, as upsets are frequent but never dull. Andy Ruiz Jr.’s KO win over Anthony Joshua in the Englishman’s US debut remains the biggest surprise in modern boxing. The self-proclaimed experts didn’t give the Destroyer hope before round one. Still, he climbed off the canvas and brutally silenced his critics, taking the belts to become one of the most unlikely heavyweight champions of the 21st century.
When two become one
Despite the energy, excitement, and millions of dollars in prize money available in the heavyweight division, it still needs one thing. Fight fans want to see a single, unified world heavyweight champion proving the best fighter on the planet in the highest division. Recently, the belts have changed hands so many times it’s difficult for casual fans to keep pace with the results. Deontay Wilder lost his belts to Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua conceded to Ruiz, won them back, and lost them for a second time to Oleksandr Usyk.
All avid fight fans and casual followers of boxing want one champion. The belts belong to Usyk and Fury, with the Ukrainian holding the lion’s share, but most experts know Fury to be the true champion. The only thing that will settle the ongoing debate over who is number one is a meeting of Usyk and Fury. Fans have been teased with rumors and suggestions this year, but nothing has materialized, with both camps blaming the other for the breakdown of negotiations.
The fight is no more likely to be agreed upon this month than last, but it’s hoped the pair will share a ring by the end of 2023 or in the first half of 2024. Despite the bickering and accusations from Team Usyk and Team Fury, major sportsbooks from Las Vegas to London offer odds on the result and accept bets from members. If you expect promoters to tie down the warring pair and set a date for a fight, you can beat the crowds and get in early to make your prediction and gamble.
Will you side with Usyk or the Gypsy King? Odds-makers offer fight fans an opportunity to predict the winner or play one of the many specials and unique markets. The most popular include total rounds, method of victory, winning rounds, to be knocked down and win, total knockdowns, and more. There’s something to suit every fight fan and budget. But who wins? Keep reading as we dissect the recent form of Usyk and Fury.
Usyk was punch-perfect in Poland
Usyk has been more active than Fury and was in action in August when he beat another British heavyweight, Daniel Dubois. The Londoner is rated one of the most exciting prospects in heavyweight boxing, and at just 25 years old, there’s plenty more to come from Dubois. He has 19 wins on his record, 18 coming by way of knockout. An earth-shattering 95% knockout ratio means few fighters will fancy facing Dubois, but Oleksandr beat him inside the distance.
An illegal blow from Dubois below his opponent’s belt caused a break in play as the champion recovered, but Usyk clambered back to his feet, took the rest afforded him, and battled back. He used his boxing skills, footwork, and silky southpaw style to build up a comfortable lead on the scorecards, remaining patient before delivering the KO/TKO. Usyk finished the fight with Dubois in round nine; the Brit counted out in the middle of the ring.
The win over Dubois wasn’t quite as clear-cut as some pundits expected, with critics calling it a mismatch, but Dynamite caused problems and proved he belongs in world championship company. At 25, Daniel is growing and improving with the passing of every round. He learned a harsh lesson from visiting Poland but will return better for the experience. It was great for Usyk to finally fight as close to home as possible after years on the road.
With Ukraine still a warzone, Poland was the best alternative, but a unification bout with Fury would likely be in a different country. Early rumors suggest Usyk v Fury in Great Britain, the United States, or Saudi Arabia. The latter is becoming a major venue for heavyweight boxing.
Fury plays the waiting game
The Gypsy King was last in competitive action when he beat Derek Chisora at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London late last year. That bout completed a trilogy between Fury and Chisora, ending in a 3-0 win for the world champion.
Fury beat his old rival in round 10 of a contest scheduled for 12. Tyson was the hot favorite to win that contest and delivered the goods, but he knows he faces a different challenge in Usyk.
With his record now standing at 33 wins, no defeats, and a draw, Fury is ranked as the number one heavyweight by boxing officials and fans. The 35-year-old admitted his next opponent in boxing will be one for the fans, offering long-term rival Anthony Joshua a shot at redemption if the fight with Oleksandr doesn’t happen in the next few months.