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Oleksandr Usyk defeats Tyson Fury to become undisputed heavyweight champion

Oleksandr Usyk defeated Tyson Fury to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in nearly a quarter century early Sunday morning in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The undefeated Ukrainian emerged victorious in a 12-round battle with a bloodied and battered Fury to add the WBC to his WBO, WBA and IBF crowns – the first time in history a heavyweight has held all four titles in the four-belt era.

Usyk, who now stands at a perfect 22-0 for his career, prevailed with a split decision 115-112, 113-114 and 114-113 on the judges’ scorecards.

“I feel good. A lot of people prayed for me, I love you. I’m very happy,” said a jubilant Usyk surrounded by his team in the ring at the Kingdom Arena.

The loss, a first as a professional for Fury, drops him to 34-1-1.

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The two now appear set for a rematch later in the year – as per the pre-fight contract – with Fury claiming immediately after winning the fight.

“I believe I won this fight,” he said. “I think he won a few rounds but I won more.

“Make no mistake, I won this fight and I will come back. We are returning to our families and taking it up again in October. I’m not going to sit here and cry and make excuses.


Usyk won the fight via split decision (Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

Not since Lennox Lewis in 2000 has the premier weight division seen an undisputed champion, with Usyk now adding his name to Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in the sport’s most exclusive club.

Usyk could have ended the fight in the ninth as a powerful left and a barrage of shots sent Fury, already bearing the marks of a bruising encounter on his face, staggering backwards. Only a combination of the ropes, referee Mark Nelson and the end-of-round bell saved him from an early stoppage.

The early stages were Fury’s, the Brit using his superior size and reach to keep Usyk, the more aggressive and prolific punch thrower of the two, well out of reach.

But just when Fury appeared to have taken control of the match, Usyk fought back with just over three to play, connecting with a bang and forcing Fury to face a referee’s count for only the eighth time in his career .

Both fighters, however, showed the mental and physical durability that made them champions to go the distance, with Usyk preempting the decision to hand Fury a first defeat since the amateur ranks.

“My people will be very happy, I think. This is a great victory, not only for me, but also for my country, for the soldiers who are now defending my country,” Usyk said.

“I think my father is looking after me now and is very happy. Dad I love you. I can, you told me.

(Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

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News Source : www.nytimes.com

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