Usyk becomes the first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP): Oleksandr Usyk defeated Tyson Fury by split decision to become the first undisputed heavyweight boxing champion in 24 years.

Usyk (22-0) added Fury’s WBC title to his own WBA, IBF, and WBO belts with a spectacular late rally highlighted by a ninth-round knockdown in a back-and-forth bout between two previously unbeaten heavyweight champs. Two judges favored Usyk, 115-112 and 114-113, while the third gave it to Fury, 114-113.

“It’s a great time. It’s a great day,” Usyk said.
Usyk started quickly but then had to survive while the confident, charismatic Fury dominated the middle rounds. Usyk surged in the final rounds, just as the Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist has done so many times in his career, taking control with a dominant eighth and nearly stopping Fury in the ninth.

Usyk hurt Fury (34-1-1) with a left hand and eventually sent him sprawling into a corner in the final seconds of the round, getting credit for a knockdown right before Fury was saved by the bell. Fury struggled to mount a consistent attack after nearly getting stopped, and the knockdown turned out to be the decisive factor in the decision.

“Thank you so much to my team,” Usyk said while fighting back tears in the ring. ”It’s a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country. Slava Ukraini!”
Fury kissed Usyk on the head after the final bell. Fury also said he wants the rematch in October.
“I believe I won that fight,” Fury said. “I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won the majority of them, and I believe it was one of those what-can-you-do, one of them … decisions in boxing. We both put on a good fight, 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 fight, in my opinion, and I’ll be back. I’ve got a rematch clause.”
The 37-year-old Usyk is the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis held the honor for five months in 1999 and 2000. He is also now the lineal heavyweight champion by beating Fury, who beat Wladimir Klitschko to earn that distinction in 2015.

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