If Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk do square off on April 29, their colossal undisputed heavyweight championship showdown will require the habitual and timeless tagline.
Muhammad Ali and George Foreman gave us “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran gave us “The Brawl in Montreal.” Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns gave us “The War.”
I’ve been mulling over ideas for Fury vs Usyk recently and settled on two: The Heavy Wait and The Life Sentence.
It was November 1999 when Lennox Lewis scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield to claim undisputed heavyweight honors in Las Vegas. No fighter has done it since — not Vitali Klitschko, not Wladimir Klitschko, not Anthony Joshua, not Deontay Wilder — nobody.
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The winner of a Fury vs Usyk clash would be the first fighter crowned undisputed heavyweight champion this century.
With all due respect to the other divisions, the undisputed heavyweight championship is the crown jewel in all of boxing. Its proprietor would sit proudly at the top table alongside the likes of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson for all time.
But despite the fact that boxing history beckons, and despite the fact that both fighters stand to make an inordinate sum of money, there remains a perpetual struggle to get Fury vs Usyk over the line.
To all concerned: Can we please just get this done?
Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk timeline
The following is a timeline of the arduous and endless road to Fury vs Usyk:
February 2020: Fourteen months earlier, Fury was denied a second heavyweight championship when he was forced to settle for a contentious draw with “The Bronze Bomber” in LA.
However, when the pair met in a rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, all disputes were settled. Fury dominated from start to finish, decking Wilder twice en route to an emphatic seventh-round stoppage. The victory saw Fury lift the WBC and Ring Magazine championships.
September 2021: It was a beautiful evening at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London when Anthony Joshua made his way to the ring for a world title defense against Usyk.
The majority of fans and experts felt that AJ’s size and strength would prove decisive against the former undisputed cruiserweight champ. As it turned out, speed and skill trumped all, with southpaw Usyk cruising to a brilliant 12-round unanimous decision victory.
With IBF, WBA, and WBO titles in his possession, Usyk’s stock rose dramatically.
The calls for an undisputed clash with The Gypsy King begin here.
February 2022: War breaks out when Russia invades Ukraine. Usyk puts his career on hold and joins defense forces in Kyiv.
April 2022: Fury scores a spectacular one-punch, sixth-round stoppage over WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte at Wembley Arena in London.
The bout breaks the all-time U.K. attendance record with a crowd of approximately 94,000.
August 2022: Having been granted permission by the Ukrainian government to resume his career, Usyk returns for a contractually agreed-upon rematch with Joshua at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia.
AJ performs far better and pushes his conqueror all the way. However, a huge surge by the Brit in the ninth round is rendered meaningless when Usyk sweeps the final three rounds to claim a hard-fought 12-round split decision.
September 2022: When Usyk states that he needs rest following the Joshua rematch and won’t be ready to face Fury by a specific date, The Gypsy King immediately turns his attention to a December 2022 clash with Joshua.
Fury offers Team AJ a 60-40 split, but sets deadlines to get the bout locked in. Despite some fans getting their hopes up, the money-spinning all-British showdown remains snake-bitten and negotiations fall apart.
A new dance partner is required.
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December 2022: Before approximately 60,000 fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Fury wins every minute of every round against friendly foe Derek Chisora and successfully retains his WBC championship via 11th-round stoppage.
After the bout concludes, Fury approaches Usyk, who is sitting ringside, and unloads a raft of insults at the unified champ. The Gypsy King does all the talking, while Usyk walks onto the ring apron and stares him dead in the eye.
February 2022: It’s reported that a Fury vs Usyk collision in Saudi Arabia is off the table because the temporary arena for the fight will not be ready for April 29. However, there are also rumors that Fury’s financial demands could not be met.
The front-runner to host the bout is now Wembley Stadium in London. At time of writing, both camps seem to be confident that the bout will go ahead.
Keep your fingers, toes, and anything else you can find, crossed.
Make no mistake, if we get this fight, it will be the sport’s most significant showdown in over two decades.