BN weekly columnist Joe Hughes looks ahead to a fascinating clash of styles in Saudi tonight as Fury and Usyk clash for all the heavyweight marbles.

WE finally see the heavyweight championship unified this weekend when WBC champion Tyson Fury faces WBA, IBF and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk. It’s a fight and an event the boxing world has been waiting to see for a very long time. 

25 years have passed since the last undisputed heavyweight championship match when Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield faced off for the biggest title in the sporting world. The fact that it’s been that long in the making is a poor reflection on the sport (and if professional boxing can realistically still be called a sport, first and foremost).

The business of boxing has often gotten in the way of the world seeing the very best face the very best, and none more so than in the heavyweight division. Apart from when both Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, held all the titles and refused to face each other due to a promise to their mother. 

Arguments over TV deals, purse splits, further formations of “world” governing bodies, and other reasons that basically boil down to money have stopped there from being one universally recognised heavyweight champion of the world since the aforementioned Lewis. 

It’s taken Saudi Arabia and Turki Alalshikh’s financial incentive to get this to happen. It’s safe to say the landscape of boxing has massively changed since their involvement, and it’s yet to be seen if it’s good or bad for the sport in the long term. In the short term, it’s hard to argue that this fight, and many of the other recent big fights we’ve seen in the Middle East, would be happening otherwise.

Regardless of everything that surrounds it, this match up, in pure boxing terms, is an extremely interesting fight. Both are unbeaten heavyweight champions who have looked brilliant in the past. Both put in subpar performances in their most recent matches, likely due to a lack of motivation that they weren’t facing each other. 

Fury is the much bigger man of the two and very skilled. Usyk is a former undisputed cruiserweight champion and possibly one of the most skilled heavyweights of all time. The Ukrainian southpaw has impeccable footwork, head movement and feints that keep his opponent’s mind working in overdrive to try and decipher what he is going to do next.

It will be interesting to see how Fury deals with this. He’s usually more skilled and faster than his opponents, but he won’t be this time. Despite this, I still believe Fury will find a way to win.

If he can put in the sort of performance he did against Deontay Wilder in their second fight and rough Usyk up, use his size to shut down the Ukrainian’s brilliance and make the fight rough and messy, I believe he’ll do enough to win a close points decision. 

If he performs anything close to what he did in his most recent fight against Francis Ngannou, he’ll be in for a very rough night.