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Fury and Usyk set for war

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British heavyweight boxing titleholder Tyson Fury and Ukrainian challenger Oleksandr Usyk are set to battle for the undisputed heavyweight world championship this Saturday at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena.

As per a media statement released on Wednesday, the winner will claim the four championship belts in a unification match for boxing’s most prestigious global organisations: the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the International Boxing Federation (IBF), and the World Boxing Organisation (WBO).

The four belts prominently display images of boxing legends such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The statement further noted that both Fury and Usyk aim to etch their names alongside these iconic figures in boxing history.

Saturday’s highly anticipated match will mark a milestone in modern boxing, being the first time that the four belts will be unified in a single fight. This event pays homage to the esteemed legacy of past champions who have shaped the sport’s championship titles.

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It appears that size plays a significant role, as southpaw Usyk gives up 15 centimetres (6 inches) in height to Fury, who stands at 2.06 meters (6 feet 9 inches), as well as 18 centimetres in reach and nearly 22 kilograms (49 pounds) in weight. “To win this, I don’t need to be heavy, I need to be fast, and quick,” Usyk told Ring magazine in February. “You never see a fat wolf in the forest.”

His flawless record of 21 victories and zero losses as a professional, with 14 of those wins coming by knockout, speaks volumes, and he also won Olympic gold in London in 2012. “I respect Usyk as a man,” said Fury ahead of the showdown.

“I respect his career as well. I’m fighting the real deal. He’s got good footwork, good boxing ability, technically sound. He’s proved he can mix it with the big heavyweights because he’s beat Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois. I’m messing with an elite fighter.”

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The World Boxing Council (WBC) was established in 1963, with Muhammad Ali notably reigning as one of its most celebrated champions, holding the title three times during his illustrious career. The International Boxing Federation (IBF), founded in 1983, saw Larry Holmes dominate the heavyweight division for seven years across different periods of his career.

Meanwhile, the World Boxing Organisation (WBO), established in 1988, has been held by various prominent champions, including Chris Byrd and Herbie Hide. However, the oldest among the four belts that Fury and Usyk will vie for is the WBA title, established over a century ago.

This title was famously held for 12 years by Joe Louis, the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949, widely regarded as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prominent destination for premier world boxing contests in recent years, with significant investments made by authorities to bring major bouts to both local and international audiences. Previous events hosted in the country have captured the attention of fans worldwide, solidifying the Kingdom’s position as a new hub for international boxing.

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