Teddy Atlas: I can't go against Oleksandr Usyk in Tyson Fury fight

This past weekend we nearly saw WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury spoil his chances at an undisputed title clash with IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belt holder Oleksandr Usyk in a razor thin split decision win over MMA star Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) shockingly found himself on the canvas after a left hook from Ngannou clubbed the top off the head of The Gypsy King in the third round. He eventually recovered in a less than convincing performance against the debutant over ten rounds.

ProBox TV spoke with famed trainer, commentator and boxing analyst Teddy Atlas to get his expert view on the tentatively scheduled undisputed heavyweight championship clash.

“Listen, I wasn’t shocked,” Atlas said in an exclusive interview ringside in Riyadh.“People thought I was crazy saying Ngannou had a chance. First of all he’s got that eraser power that can make up for a lot of mistakes, and he’s very athletic! Even though he hasn’t been a professional boxer, 75 percent of it is mental, he is an athlete.”

An undisputed bout with Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) is reportedly set for December 23rd, it is however also reportedly to be scheduled on a later date with just 7 weeks until that day. 

“From the beginning I said ‘how do you go against Usyk since he won the gold medal at the Olympics, unified the cruiserweight titles, stepped to heavyweight?’” Atlas said of his prediction. “Everyone was checking the boxes of the advantages Fury had. Fury is bigger, he can fight on the outside, he can fight on the inside, everybody loved Fury. But, I said from the beginning that ‘I can’t go against Usyk,’ I love Fury and he is very well rounded and he had an off performance tonight. Some of that you have to credit Ngannou. And maybe mentally Fury wasn’t quite ready for what was about to take place. He thought it was going to be easier. When you think going in, it is hard to recalibrate, it hard to adjust mentally to what is really happening. 

“I’m making no excuses, give credit to Ngannou but that might have been in play a little bit. But the bottom line is as I said before that, I can’t go against Usyk because there is one thing where nobody is checking a box. Yeah they are saying the other guy [Fury] got the jab and he can box on the outside, he can go get you, he’s the bigger man, all off that! But, Usyk has always had one asset that he has always had, you know what it is? He knows how to win, he knows how to win. You can’t go against a guy like that, it is hard.”