Tyson Fury fails in bid to become undisputed heavyweight world champion losing to Oleksandr Usyk

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk beat Tyson Fury in a split decision. Credit: PA Images

Tyson Fury has lost his bid to become undisputed world heavyweight champion following a split decision defeat to Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk.

The clash, at the sold out Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia, was billed as ‘Ring of Fire’, with Fury becoming the first fighter to take control of the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis toppled Evander Holyfield in 1999 and the first ruler of the four-belt era.

The Gypsy King, from Morecambe, blamed his loss on the judges siding with Usyk because of the war in his native Ukraine, claiming instead his should have been given the decision.

Usyk had entered the ring for the fight at 15st 13lbs, considerably lighter than Fury’s 18st 10lbs, but he swung the contest in his favour with a powerful ninth round in which the Briton was saved by the bell.

The Ukrainian won 115-112 and 114-113 on two scorecards while the third judge saw it 114-113 for Fury.

Fury hugs Usyk after the fight. Credit: PA Images

“I believe I won that fight. I think he won a few of those rounds but I won the majority of them,” Fury said.

“His country as at war, so people are siding with the country at war. Make no mistake, I won that fight in my opinion.

“I’ve had a split decision loss with a little man. Good luck and God bless you.

“I want to thank God. We fought a good fight for the fans. I always say it’s about getting paid and getting laid and we did that.

“I want to thank Oleksandr for the good fight. It was a close fight. I thought I’d done enough, but I’m not a judge. I can’t judge a fight while I’m boxing in it.”

The Ukrainian was taken to hospital for a scan on an injury that his promoter Alex Krassyuk refused to disclose after inflicting the first loss of Fury’s career.

Credit: PA Images

Prior to the fight Fury, the two-time heavyweight world champion, had held the WBC heavyweight title since 2020.

Usyk, an Olympic gold medalist had held the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts.

Fury appeared to have taken control midway through the fight, but in the ninth round Usky landed hard left hands - his most effective shot – and had Fury in serious trouble.

Once a 10 count had finished, the three minutes was up to spare the pre-fight favourite any further damage.

An immediate rematch clause means the rivals are set to meet again in October with the winner then going on to fight Anthony Joshua. Fury insisted he would take the opportunity to avenge the loss of his WBC title.

“Yes of course – rematch. I am ready. We have more time to do a good fight,” he said.

Usyk is now the first ruler of the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis in 2000 and his stunning victory against a man almost three stones heavier and six inches taller was watched by his illustrious predecessor.

“I feel good. A lot of people prayed for me. I love you. I’m very happy,” Usyk said before he had gone to hospital.

“My people will be very happy. It’s a big win, not only for me but it’s a big win for my country and for the soldiers who now defend my country.

“Thank you so much to my team. It’s a big opportunity for my family, for me, for my country. It’s a great time, it’s a great day.”

It was a captivating fight full of momentum swings and drama with Ukrainian’s front foot gameplan and relentless pursuit of the favourite successful in adding the WBC belt to the WBA, IBF and WBO belts he already possessed.