Usyk beats Fury to become first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years: NPR

Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk launches an attack on Briton Tyson Fury during a boxing match for the undisputed heavyweight world championship at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, May 19, 2024.

Francisco Seco/AP


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Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk launches an attack on Briton Tyson Fury during a boxing match for the undisputed heavyweight world championship at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, May 19, 2024.

Francisco Seco/AP

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk became the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in 24 years, defeating British fighter Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Usyk defeated Fury by split decision late Saturday night, knocking out his opponent in the ninth round, before eventually earning a narrow victory on two scorecards. Two judges favored Usyk 115-112 and 114-113, while the third gave it to Fury 114-113. Usyk added Fury’s WBC title to his WBA, IBF and WBO belts.

“It’s a great time. It’s a great day,” said Usyk, who stands 6 inches shorter than the 6-foot-9 Fury and weighs 30 pounds lighter. “Thank you very much to my team,” Usyk said, holding back tears. “It’s a big opportunity for me, my family and my country. Slava Ukraine!”

Fury kissed Usyk on the head after the final bell, and Usyk hugged Fury moments after the decision was read. In a post-fight interview, Fury also said he wants a rematch in October.


Britain’s Tyson Fury, left, and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk exchange blows during their undisputed world heavyweight championship boxing match at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, May 19, 2024.

Francisco Seco/AP

“I think I won this fight,” Fury said. “I think he won a few rounds, but I won most of them, and I think it was one of those rounds you can make, one of those…decisions in boxing. We both set ourselves up for a good fight, the best we can do.” You know, his country is at war, so people are siding with a country at war. But make no mistake, I won that battle in my mind, and I will be back. “I’ve got a rematch clause.”

Usyk has now joined the elite club of fighters who have held every major world heavyweight championship belt – the first to do so in the four-belt era, which began in 2007. The list of undisputed champions includes Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis. Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Mike Tyson. The last undisputed heavyweight champion was Lennox Lewis, who beat Evander Holyfield in late 1999 and enjoyed a five-month reign.

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