Chris Algieri’s School Of Thought: Fury Has Every Reason To Believe He Can Win The Rematch He’s Targeting With Usyk

During his post-fight interviews Tyson Fury was very sober about how his fight with Oleksandr Usyk went, and he was gracious in defeat, so the news that he intends on activating his rematch clause comes as no surprise. I thought he was very gracious – he gave the perfect answers for someone who’s as genuine as he is – which also showed the respect he has for Usyk. 

They’d had a fantastic fight, and for the sake of his legacy, Fury has to fight Usyk again. His legacy is going to be in question – which isn’t necessarily fair, not least because it’s only going to be questioned in light of how recently he suffered his first loss.

Every great heavyweight has lost. If Fury beats Usyk in a rematch – and then potentially fights him for a third time – it really enhances his legacy. He’s also capable of winning a rematch – it was a very close fight. Watching live I scored seven of 12 rounds to Usyk and five to Fury, and of course recorded the “knockdown” for Usyk. When I watched the fight back on Sunday, I was tempted to score it six-six. 

Regardless, I truly believe that if Fury didn’t get hurt in the eighth round – it was the ninth when he took a standing count – he’d have won. It’s not just how the ninth round affected the scorecards, it’s how long it took Fury to recover. When a fighter gets hurt like that, they’re not trying to win the rounds like they were previously; they’re trying to recover from being hurt first, which he did. Fury won the 12th round by showing incredible heart and boxing really well. The rematch is very winnable for him.

Usyk-Fury II is also, easily, the most appealing fight in the heavyweight division. If Fury wins, it makes the fight with Anthony Joshua we’re all expecting even more enticing. If he doesn’t win, and he still beats Joshua, he’ll have beaten Joshua and ruined Deontay Wilder and only narrowly lost to Usyk – so his résumé will be awesome. 

From rounds four to seven Fury was in control and looked great. Some of those right uppercuts he was landing made Usyk look at risk of being knocked out; Usyk also didn’t seem to be able to hurt him, and Fury was having fun, and rolling with the punches. But Usyk’s punches were having an effect – his body shots, particularly. It’s just that Fury’s poker face was excellent. The pressure Usyk set and the body punches he was throwing from the first round started to take their toll. Fury had to stay in the pocket, and his growing fatigue robbed him of his technique. When he got hurt he was in too close when he threw an uppercut, which landed, but Usyk immediately came back with that overhand right hook-left hand, without even looking, and hurt Fury – which changed the fight.

The way Fury responded in the 12th round and started punching and jabbing again with the same snap as earlier in the fight also showed he retains the engine that’s always been such a strength. After a lengthy period of questions surrounding whether he’s declined, I thought he looked focused and that there were times he looked as good as ever. He had to use a lot of energy – largely because of Usyk’s game plan to force the bigger fighter back. He also took a battering during those late rounds – and still eventually recovered. 

Fury and Usyk are both very intelligent, very adaptable, fighters. Heading into a potential rematch I believe Usyk takes away more from their first fight, but not because of how intelligent he is. He knows – as opposed to believes – he can hurt Fury. He also knows that he can knock him out. Their fight wasn’t settled by their boxing IQs; it came down to Usyk’s heart. He accepted that Fury’s as technically gifted and intelligent as has long been thought, and that he had to, simply, turn it up. Usyk looked tired, but he had the doggedness to find another gear. That ability – more so than his feet, defense, fundamentals or ability to read fights – is his biggest weapon. He never gets flustered or fails to figure it out.

It’ll be very tempting for Usyk to retire off the back of victory as one of the greatest fighters ever. He’s an Olympic gold medalist; he won the four cruiserweight titles by defeating the reigning champions; he moved up to heavyweight and then beat the best. But the money involved in a rematch is almost certain to be even more tempting. Fury got paid a reported $100m for their first fight; second time around it could be Usyk who’s getting paid $100m.

It’s also a huge risk, because he could very easily lose, but $100m represents generational wealth. Every fighter wants to become a champion, build a legacy, make the kind of money that means they never again need to work, and get out as close to being the person they were when their career started. He’s already on course to do that – and I expect him to back himself to keep it that way in the event of a rematch. 

I’d also make Usyk the favourite for a rematch – but not by a wide distance. How could he be, given how close Saturday's fight ultimately was?