Oleksandr Usyk beats Tyson Fury to become undisputed world heavyweight champion

Tyson Fury’s quest to become undisputed world heavyweight champion ended in defeat by split decision to Oleksandr Usyk in an enthralling night in Riyadh.

Fury appeared to have taken control midway through the fight but Usyk came on strong and swung the contest in his favour with a powerful ninth round in which the Briton was saved by the bell.

Landing with hard left hands – his most effective shot – he had Fury in serious trouble and once a 10 count had finished, the three minutes was up to spare the pre-fight favourite any further damage.

Fury recovered but it was a critical round that swung the contest in Usyk’s favour, winning 115-112 and 114-113 on two scorecards while the third judge saw it as 114-113 against him.

Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk – Kingdom Arena
Tyson Fury gestures during the fight (Nick Potts/PA)

It was a captivating fight full of momentum swings and drama with Ukrainian’s front foot gameplan and relentless pursuit of the favourite successful in adding the WBC belt to the WBA, IBF and WBO belts he already possessed.

Right from the start Usyk, who was conceded nearly three stones in weight and six inches in height, took the centre of the ring and was more aggressive.

Fury play acted against the ropes and started laughing as Usyk applied pressure and the second round continued along the same theme of the Briton getting backed up against the ropes.

The Gypsy King continued to be stalked around the ring as Usyk made good on his promise not to leave him alone.

Fury opened round four with solid work to the body and then made Usyk hesitate with a sharp uppercut, looking relaxed as he moved around and picked his shots with the jab often finding its target.

Another powerful body shot made an impact, Fury then fired a right uppercut and having conceded the opening rounds, the WBC champion was now in control.

The firth round was Fury’s best yet and in the sixth for the first time Usyk went into retreat, stung by two right uppercuts that left him needing to regroup against the ropes.

Usyk landed left hands to the body and head in the seventh as he resumed his chase of the bookmakers’ favourite and the round ended with him taking the fight, pinning him in the corner.

And the Ukrainian took his revival into the eighth as he continued to land with hard shots, directing one right on the nose to leave Fury touching his nose and right eye.

Fury was no longer moving with the same ease and after taking a right hook he was in serious trouble, Usyk unloading freely but somehow his opponent stayed on his feet.

Only the ropes saved the 35-year-old and he was given a standing 10 count count and was then rescued by the bell at the end of the ninth.

Usyk was too passive in the 10th as Fury had recovered from the assault that left him lurching around the ring, but another left hand gave him the edge in the 11th.

Fury needed something special in the final round but with his smaller adversary refusing to cease his pursuit, it did not come and for the first time he was defeated.