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New era in heavyweight: Implications of Usyk's victory or defeat against Fury

New era in heavyweight: Implications of Usyk's victory or defeat against Fury Photo: Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield (far left and right) are waiting for an heir (

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk will face British fighter Tyson Fury for the title of undisputed heavyweight world champion.

The possible scenarios following the Usyk vs. Fury bout are detailed in this material by RBC-Ukraine.

The Usyk vs. Fury fight will take place on May 18 in the Arabian capital of Riyadh. The boxers will enter the ring at the local Kingdom Arena. The match will begin no earlier than 00:30 Kiev time. Together, the Ukrainian and the Briton hold all the major belts — WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO, and WBC.

The heavyweight division hasn't seen undisputed champions in a long time. In November 1992, Riddick Bowe defeated another elite boxer of that era, Evander Holyfield, on points and took control of the belts from three major boxing organizations. However, he later controversially lost one of them—refusing to fight Lennox Lewis and publicly tossing their belt into the trash.

Lewis himself later experienced something similar. In the fall of 1999, the British boxer defeated Holyfield on points and consolidated the most important championship titles at the time — WBC, WBA, and IBF. However, Lewis remained undisputed champion for only six months. He declined to fight John Ruiz and thus lost the WBA belt. Since then, there have been no undisputed champions in the heavyweight division.

List of undisputed heavyweight champions in the era of three belts (WBC, WBA, and IBF):

  • Mike Tyson – 1987-1990
  • James Douglas – 1990
  • Evander Holyfield – 1990-1992
  • Riddick Bowe – 1992
  • Lennox Lewis – 1999-2000

What if Usyk wins

The Ukrainian will become the undisputed world champion. He will firmly place himself alongside the Klitschko brothers in Ukraine's boxing pantheon. In the summer of 2011, Volodymyr Klitschko closed all the championship belts in the family by defeating WBA champion David Haye by judges' decision. The younger of the brothers already controlled the titles WBO, IBF, and IBO, while the elder carried the WBC belt.

However, Usyk's joy will be short-lived. The International Boxing Federation (IBF) has decided that the Ukrainian boxer has overdue the mandatory defense of the championship belt. Therefore, this title will be contested on June 1 by official contender for the belt Filip Hrgovic from Croatia and British fighter Daniel Dubois. This fight will also take place at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

New era in heavyweight: Implications of Usyk's victory or defeat against Fury

What if Fury wins

If Fury wins, the Briton will briefly become undisputed heavyweight champion. Even after losing the IBF belt in early summer, Fury will hold the most titles since 2015. Back then, the Gypsy King defeated Volodymyr Klitschko by judges' decision and took the belts from the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO versions. The scenario of a rematch with Usyk and then another fight with someone from the Hrgovic-Dubois pair is currently in the realm of fantasy.

The rematch between Usyk and Fury is planned for October this year. Its winner will no longer carry the title of undisputed champion. The likelihood of a second fight if Fury wins the first is not very high, especially if the Gypsy King's performance is far from convincing. The eccentric boxer could very well announce the end of his career once again.