“I ACTUALLY think it’s gonna be a draw.” Those were the words of David Haye when asked to pick a winner ahead of Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk this evening. Controversy is commonplace in big-time boxing and spurious decisions, riddled with contention, often come with the territory. 

Haye was among a variety of heavyweights, past or present, who offered their thoughts, insights, and predictions to Boxing News during the build-up to a heavyweight fight that will define a generation.

While Haye may be a figure of the past, plenty of punching pugilists of the present and future weighed in on the outcome.

If doors had slid in different directions, Andy Ruiz might well have been standing in the ring for a contest of this magnitude. As it turns out, the fast-handed Californian lost to Joshua, who in turn lost to Usyk. Ruiz is now battling inactivity, standing on the outside looking in.

“I think if Usyk throws his combinations, goes inside there, sticks to the game plan and don’t let Tyson Fury box him around; use the jab, use his distance, I think Usyk could do good,” opined Ruiz.

Ruiz returns to the ring on August 3 against Jarrell Miller in Los Angeles. Miller, known as “Big Baby”, was last seen losing to Daniel Dubois.

“I think Tyson’s going to pull it off, man. Tyson’s a good guy. I’m going with more of my feelings and the relationship that I have with guys. Tyson’s a big guy, but he’s a big, fun, lovable guy. He’s always been positive with me, so I’m rooting for him,” said Miller.

Still rebuilding his career after suffering a first loss (by one-round KO to Lukasz Rozanski), Croatia’s Alen “The Savage” Babic has been in a Fury camp and seen the work ethic first-hand.

“I’m going to watch for sure. But I think it will be so hard to say. I see Fury training harder than ever. I was in one of his camps. I know he works very much,” said Babic.

“He spars four times a week. So that’s a lot. I think I would still stay with Fury, even after everything that’s happened.”

Preparing for his own date with destiny, on June 1, when he faces Daniel Dubois in the five-versus-five, Filip Hrgovic will have a keen eye on the winner.

“Not because of the Ngannou fight, but even before the Ngannou fight, I thought that Usyk is favourite,” said Hrgovic. 

“It’s more like a 50-50 fight, but I give Usyk a little bit of the edge in that fight because for me, he’s just more complete fighter. 

“He’s always in good shape; great defence, great footwork, great technique, and he has solid power as well. Usyk is more complete fighter. But it’s hard fight, of course, for both.”

London, UK – August 12:Filip Hrgovic v Demsey McKean, Heavyweight Contest, Heavyweight Contest.
12 August 2023 – Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing

Hrgovic inflicted a first professional defeat on giant southpaw Zhilei Zhang. The Chinese fighter rebounded before suffering another setback against Joseph Parker. Zhang has a make-or-break evening ahead of him on June 1, but still took time to glance over Fury-Usyk.

“I think it depends on what kind of training camp and preparation Tyson Fury has towards this fight. If he does it like he did back in the Ngannou fight, it’s going to be a really tough and long night for him,” said Zhang.

Zhang gave Joe Joyce two tough, but not particularly long, nights when he imposed back-to-back defeats on the seemingly immovable UK obstacle. Joyce admitted that his track record of calling big fights is sketchy, but as a previous Usyk opponent, his insight remains valuable.

“I’m really looking forward to watching it and seeing the outcome. The tale of the tape, you match their stats together, knockouts and fights and everything.

“But yeah, Usyk’s very tough. He’s very technical, faster, maybe. He could get in and out. I could see how they can both win the fight, so it’s like a 50-50 fight.

“I made a bad prediction again. I mean, I thought Joshua-Ngannou would have been a double KO, but it obviously wasn’t the case. So, don’t listen to me. Don’t put your money on what I say,” laughed Joyce.

Red-hot amateur talent Delicious Orie says Fury will need to step up, as Usyk is no slouch, and the level needs to rise tenfold from his Francis Ngannou display.

“I hope he [Fury] does better. I’m not knocking Francis Ngannou, I think he’s an amazing athlete and a fighter, but he’s had one professional boxing fight. Tyson Fury has been around a long time,” said Orie.

“I’m happy it’s going along. It should have happened a year ago. The ultimate heavyweight clash. Let’s do it.”

While the heavyweight man of the moment, Joseph Parker, might be biased when it comes to picking a winner, the New Zealander has gained enough experience over his 12-year career, including a world title reign, to pick out the key nuances of each man.

“I just think it’s great that the fight’s actually happening and locked in. It’s a fight that’s been talked about for a long time. And we’ve never seen an undefeated unified champion in a long time. You know who I’m going for. You know who I’m backing,” admitted Parker.

“And so I’m very biased in that sense. I just think I know Tyson’s going to take care of business and he’s going to be the unified champion. It’s going to be great.”

One man who is never afraid to elicit an opinion is former cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion David Haye. The Londoner was expected to fight Tyson Fury on more than one occasion, but the fight never came to fruition. Now, he expects controversy.

“I actually think it’s gonna be a draw. I think Usyk is going to win the fight the same way I believed that Ngannou won the fight when he fought Tyson Fury. Although he didn’t win the fight, technically on points, I thought he did. I’m not a judge, but I thought Ngannou did enough to win that fight and it went Tyson Fury’s way. 

David Haye vs Audley Harrison

David Haye: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

“I think Usyk is gonna win this fight, in my opinion, but two of the judges are gonna have it even, and one judge is gonna have it for Usyk, and we’re gonna have a majority draw.  If all’s equal, the big one beats the little one, but when there’s an exceptional little one and a good big one, the exceptional one wins, or the more skilled one wins. That’s the reason why so many fighters over the years have been able to go through the weight divisions,” continued Haye.

“He’s a southpaw as well [Usyk]. Tyson Fury, in my opinion, doesn’t like the southpaw style. He doesn’t like that front left hand in front of him. It seems to discombobulate him, even when Nganou in his last fight was able to turn southpaw, Tyson had no way, he couldn’t penetrate – and that’s Ngannou, who has no pedigree as a southpaw. 

“Just standing in that position, Tyson didn’t have any answers whatsoever. Whereas Ngannou tried it for about four seconds against Anthony Joshua and Anthony Joshua put him on his arse!” Haye candidly explained.