Ryan Cahill - Backing A Strong Opinion On Saudi Superfight

8 min

Matchbook’s resident Boxing tipster Ryan Cahill returns to preview this weekend’s highly-anticipated Heavyweight blockbuster between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

It is a historic event in the Boxing world this weekend. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will battle in the emerging Boxing stronghold of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this Saturday evening to crown the first-ever Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the four-belt era.

It is a fight that has been promised for some time now, and with the injury postponements and contractual disagreements behind us, we should finally get to witness the two best Heavyweights of this current generation battle it out for the WBC, WBA Super, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine belts.

Fight Week in Riyadh has already garnered massive attention after ugly scenes in the buildup involving Fury’s father, John. The less said about that, the better…

To the fight itself, Fury, the current WBC Champion, boasts a 34-0-1 (24KO’s) record while Olympic Gold Medalist, former Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion and current IBF, WBO, WBA Super and IBO Heavyweight champion Usyk holds a perfect 21-0 (14KO’s) CV.

The odds for this one could not be closer. Both men are odds against, with Fury the very slight 2.04 favourite at the time of writing with Matchbook.

An Usyk win pays 2.24, with the draw price looking extremely skinny at 15.5. The draw is one I’m very happy to neglect here for betting reasons, as it is extremely overpriced and taking up more than its fair share of the market.

Generally, you would be looking at 21.0+ for a draw in a fight like this. Both are already contractually obligated for a rematch regardless of result so you would assume there should be no controversial draw cards.

The general narrative throughout the buildup has been how Usyk will cope with the size and strength of Fury. It is interesting to remember that this was also the narrative prior to both Joshua fights, in which, to put it simply, Usyk was a level above and had no real issues fighting a bigger, stronger man.

Usyk is a master boxer; his footwork, hand speed and ability to dictate range are all world-class. He can control a fight at range or grit it out on the inside; there are no significant flaws to his game.

A potential concern for Usyk is the narrative that he is “weak” to the body. Usyk doesn’t like taking shots to the body, of course that is true and the same can be said for all fighters but the narrative that this is some glaring hole in his game is exactly that, a narrative.

There are really no facts to back this up; He was once dropped to the body by current Light Heavyweight champ and explosive puncher Artur Beterbiev as an amateur, in a fight he got up to win…

In the first Joshua fight, Usyk absorbed 15 shots to the body, 13 of which were power punches. In the rematch, he absorbed a whopping 37, 34 of which were described as power punches. Against Dubois, he absorbed 10 power punches to the mid-section. He was not given a count in any of the above fights.

Of course, the controversial low blow in the Dubois fight has given momentum to this argument. Ultimately, in my opinion, there is no significance in the idea that Usyk cannot take a shot to the body.

On the Fury side of things, he undoubtedly uses his size to his advantage, often electing to grapple and wear opponents down who are forced to hold his 6’9″, 20-stone frame. He is a good technical boxer for a Heavyweight and does move well, but not nearly as good at either of those things as Usyk is.

His controversial victory over MMA fighter-turned-boxer Francis Ngannou was the only time we saw Fury in 2023. In a controversial 10-round decision win, he looked sloppy and out-of-shape and, in most commentators’ opinion, lost against a debuting Heavyweight.

It is important to note that five months later, Ngannou was wiped out in two rounds by Anthony Joshua.

It is well-publicised that Fury has not always led a fighter’s life outside the ring or in camp, for that matter, and this constant yo-yo-ing in weight will eventually take its toll.

While it is probably fair to say Usyk has not been in the ring with a fighter of Fury’s size or strength, it’s equally fair to say Fury has never fought as skilled a fighter as Usyk. Of his last 4 opponents, Ngannou, Chisora, Whyte and Wilder, not one would be considered technically proficient.

Ultimately, in this one, I fall very strongly on the Usyk side of things and my true price on him is closer to 1.9.  I think the current 2.24 is outstanding value and expect him to get his hand raised and firmly cement himself among the very best to ever do it on Saturday night.

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