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Who will win Fury vs. Usyk? Boxing insider and fighter predictions

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The greatest prize in sport — the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world — will be on the line for the first time this century when Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh on May 18. The fight will air on DAZN PPV in the U.S. and TNT Sports in the U.K.

Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) has been at the world championship level for almost a decade. In 2015, “The Gypsy King” dethroned heavyweight legend Wladimir Klitschko to emerge as the unified champion of the world. Following a two-and-half-year layoff, the enigmatic Englishman returned to the sport and reclaimed the WBC and Ring Magazine titles at the expense of Deontay Wilder, whom he stopped twice
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WATCH: Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk, live on DAZN

Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) became a boxing legend at cruiserweight, consolidating all the titles in less than two years to become the undisputed champion. Shortly thereafter, the Ukrainian southpaw moved north to heavyweight and secured IBF, WBA and WBO titles by outpointing British power puncher Anthony Joshua. In a direct rematch, Usyk won again and picked up The Ring title.

Is Fury too big? Is Usyk too quick and elusive? Is Fury on the slide? Can Usyk absorb a body shot from a modern-day heavyweight? These are just a few of the questions being asked ahead of this incredible showdown.

The Sporting News caught up with a group of boxing insiders to gather their thoughts on the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight championship fight in decades.

Sooner or later, there comes a point in time with heavyweights where things catch up with them. The punches Fury has taken from Wilder and [Francis] Ngannou, the age, the wear and tear he’s put on his body from bouncing up and down in weight, I don’t think Fury is the same fighter he used to be. I’m not disrespecting the man — he’s had a great career — but he’s only human and it could be taking a toll on him. Also, does the weight crash have an effect? He doesn’t lose weight over a year or so, he literally goes into camp for a few weeks and looks completely different.

But then, I don’t think Usyk is the same man at heavyweight as he was at cruiserweight. He hasn’t got the same movement, speed or variety, and he’s a little more square on and stocky now because of the weight. I’ve seen a few clips of Usyk and I’m actually wondering if he’ll come in a little lighter than he has done at heavyweight. When you’re giving this much weight away, I don’t think an extra four or five pounds is a benefit. If he’s lighter, he’s more mobile, he punches sharper, and I think he’ll have more success.

There are so many scenarios that I’m unsure who wins the fight. I would have to say that because of the size, and knowing how hard Usyk has to work, Fury has the advantage. He’s the favorite, but I think Usyk is the better boxer and the better fighter. If Usyk is a little lighter than his normal heavyweight self then I think he wins.

Prediction: Undecided

Will the bigger man be better than the smaller great man? That’s the question.

If someone held a gun to my head, I would have to say that Fury would pull it out by split decision. Usyk is gonna give him trouble with the movement, but what does Tyson do if it becomes too much of a boxing match? He will switch gears and go into grappling mode: hold him, hit him, make it real dirty, real grimy. That’s his key to victory.

Usyk will have that pace that these big heavyweights can’t handle. He’s a southpaw, he’s as sharp as it gets, but the bigger man’s gonna have to hold him, clinch him and rough him up. Will the referee allow that to happen? Most likely, because everyone wants to see Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua finally go at it. The house money is on Fury to somehow get it done.

Prediction: Fury points

It’s a tough one for me. I love both guys and both are my friends.

Fury at his best is going to be very difficult to beat because he is the bigger man. Usyk will fight the way he always does; get in at angles and throw combinations.

For me, I’ll just say, may the best man win.

Prediction: Undecided

MORE: SN’s Top-12 heavyweight boxers

If you’d asked me before Fury fought [Francis] Ngannou, then I would have said Fury strongly. I still pick Fury and I expect him to win, but there are a few question marks over that performance. In my head, I think that Fury probably didn’t train for it, and that’s what it looked like to me. I suppose he can be excused a little bit because when everyone and their granny tells you it’s an easy fight, you may start to believe it yourself.

I just think there’s a lot more to come from Fury and he’s a lot better than that. And he’ll need to be better to beat Usyk. Usyk will give him trouble with his movement, but I think Fury will go to the body a lot. There’s talk of Usyk being vulnerable to the body, so I think Tyson will be aggressive in the fight. He’ll do what he did against Klitschko when he gets close; lean on him and put his body weight on him.

I have a feeling Tyson beats him and it could even be a late stoppage.

Prediction: Fury TKO

Fury wins, and I’m not being biased because we’re from the same area, the same region, and everything else. I just feel that when he’s backed up against a wall, Tyson Fury delivers. We saw it in Germany with Klitschko, and we saw it in America with Wilder.

In fights where he’s supposed to win, he can take his foot off the gas, but when Tyson’s on it and it’s a 50-50, he’s always produced. That’s what we have with Usyk. He’s seen what Usyk’s done, and what more can we see from Usyk now?

It could be a boring fight with a lot of holding, or it could turn into a [Evander] Holyfield-[Riddick] Bowe-type fight. Usyk would be Holyfield, throwing a lot of punches, but I think it’s the old adage of ‘A good big ‘un beats a good little ‘un.’

If Fury goes in like he did against Wilder, he’s a very hard man to beat.

Prediction: Fury

Well, where is Tyson Fury’s mind now? Where is his head? Where is his career?

The instant I saw Tyson Fury fall for the easy temptation of doing a reality TV show… you can’t get further away from reality than if you’re doing a reality TV show. It’s a venture into unreality. It suggests to me that Fury is not taking his career and his position in the heavyweight division as seriously as before.

So how much desire, how much incentive does Tyson Fury have to go back to focusing and preparing in the way he once did? If it’s the real Tyson Fury, buckled down and focused on going forward for the best possible results in his career, he’s still a very difficult fighter to beat. He has a unique style, he has a unique physical presence, and he makes life difficult for the opponent in a lot of different ways. If he’s distracted by a reality television show, then all bets are off and I think anything is possible.

I would have to see how they prepare, but right off the top of my head, going in, I favor Usyk as opposed to the Tyson Fury I’ve seen in the last year or two.

Prediction: Usyk

WATCH: Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk, live on TNT Sport in the U.K.

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