Fury vs Usyk: Will Usyk lose the undisputed title, and when is the rematch?

Usyk could lose his title within two weeks of becoming the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Oleksandr Usyk
Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk gestures as he talks about his father during the news conference following his victory over the United Kingdom's Tyson Fury in their undisputed heavyweight boxing championship fight [Francisco Seco/AP]

Oleksandr Usyk rewrote history books by beating Tyson Fury to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in 25 years.

The Ukrainian won the 12-round fight by a split decision despite having cornered Fury into a near knockout in the ninth round as the who’s who of boxing, including the last undisputed champion Lennox Lewis, watched on at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

[You can read our blow-by-blow account of the fight here.]

Here’s what happened after the fight and how boxing greats reacted:

Will Fury and Usyk have a rematch?

Immediately after the fight, Fury asked Usyk for a rematch and the champion did not decline the challenge.

“I have a rematch clause and I want it because I won that fight,” Fury said whilst still in the ring.

“We’ll go and rest up and fight again in October.”

Promoter Frank Warren also confirmed that the rematch is on.

“That’s what the contract says and if that’s what [Fury] wants, then it’s up to him,” Warren told the broadcasters.

It is unlikely that any October rematch would be for all four belts, as the International Boxing Federation (IBF) plans to strip Usyk if he does not face its mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic next.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]
Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury meet in the ring after winning their fight [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

Why will Usyk lose his title in two weeks?

Usyk’s reign as undisputed heavyweight world champion may last only weeks if, as many expect, the IBF takes back its belt due to the rematch clause with Fury.

The IBF’s longtime mandatory unbeaten challenger – Hrgovic, from Croatia – is scheduled to fight UK’s Daniel Dubois on June 1 in Riyadh.

That bout could become an IBF title fight if the US-based body follows past form, with the winner tipped to then go up against UK’s former champion Anthony Joshua later in the year.

Lewis was WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO champion until the WBA stripped him of its belt because he chose not to fight a mandatory challenger.

The IBF took away its belt in 2002 for similar reasons.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]
Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

What did Usyk say after beating Fury?

“It is a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country,” said Usyk, 37, who briefly served as a soldier after the Russian invasion.

“It’s a great time, a great day,” he said, adding that he was “ready for a rematch”.

Why did Fury think he deserved to win?

Fury called it a “fantastic fight with Oleksandr” but claimed that sympathy for Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia swung the judges.

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

“You know his country is at war, so people are siding with the country at war but make no mistake, I won that fight in my opinion and I will be back.”

Fury, however, said he would discuss the potential rematch with his wife and children.

“I’ll have a holiday, go home, put it to the wife and kids, I’ll see what I want to do,” he told reporters.

 Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury speaks during his press conference after the fight [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

How did boxing legends react?

Lewis, who brought the belts into the ring along with his former nemesis Evander Holyfield, said his compatriot Fury lost the fight because he fought like he had won it.

“Fury was boxing like he won the fight but you have to fight every round,” he said in his post-fight analysis.

“If a round is close, then it’s a loss and that’s the way he should have been thinking.”

Lewis said Usyk “tired Fury out”.

“He was getting in lots of punches. [Usyk] had focus all the way and had his fans cheering for him in the front row.

“Every time they cheered for him, his energy went up.”

Meanwhile, Usyk’s compatriot Wladimir Klitschko said Usyk’s win brought some respite to Ukrainians amidst the war.

“Usyk didn’t lose his potential and he believed it from the first round to the end of the fight.

“Just imagine that [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia is hitting us with drones and rockets. On the other hand, we had the opportunity for 45 minutes to believe in Usyk.”

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk face off [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies