The oddsmakers like Tyson Fury’s chances of becoming the first crowned undisputed heavyweight champion in more than twenty years.
Speculation has already run rampant of England’s Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs) ending his faux retirement to put his WBC and lineal championship at stake against unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13KOs). Early betting odds already place Fury as high as a -310 favorite to prevail, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, which lists Ukraine’s Usyk as a +195 favorite to become just the second former undisputed cruiserweight champion to repeat the feat at heavyweight, joining Evander Holyfield. Off-shore sportsbook BetOnline.ag has Fury as an early -280 favorite in the fight, provided it takes place prior to December 31.
The wide odds come even after Usyk earned a repeat win over former two-time unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22KOs) this past Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Ukrainian southpaw was forced to settle for a split decision victory, though most observers had him winning just as handily as was the case in their first fight when he dethroned England’s Joshua last September 24 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.
Fury last defended his championship in a sixth-round knockout of countryman Dillian Whyte on April 23 in front of 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. The feat marked his second title defense of his second lineal championship reign, coming six months after rising from the canvas to knock out Deontay Wilder in the 11th round of their epic trilogy clash last October in Las Vegas.
Following the win over Whyte, Fury claimed to be done with the sport though it didn’t take long for him to discuss plans for one more fight later this year. The brash Brit was allegedly pursuing a pointless trilogy clash with veteran gatekeeper Derek Chisora, before reversing course and once again announcing his retirement while celebrating his 34th birthday earlier this month.
The claim was made barely a week out from Usyk-Joshua 2, even going as far as to inform Ring Magazine that he was relinquishing the title. He has yet to do so with the WBC, who has a deadline of August 26 in place for the hulking Brit to decide whether he will in fact return for at least one more fight or if he is truly prepared to sever all ties with the sport.
Fury entered as the betting underdog in his November 2015 championship win over then-reigning lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO ruler Wladimir Klitschko and for each of his first two fights with Wilder. Their December 2018 clash ended in a controversial twelve-round draw, while Fury entered the February 2020 rematch as a slight +105 underdog before leaving with Wilder’s WBC title via seventh-round stoppage.
Their trilogy clash last October saw Fury close at -280, his first time entering any major title fight as the betting favorite.
A proposed superfight with Usyk would see the 6’9” Brit come in as the favorite for his third straight championship clash.
Usyk was a +225 underdog heading into his first fight with Joshua, while holding steady at or better than a 2/1 favorite entering their celebrated rematch over the weekend. He has emerged as arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, as a testament to his incredible cruiserweight run before enjoying similar success at heavyweight where he has campaigned since 2019.
The heavyweight division has never been fully unified since global acceptance of the WBO as a major title. Lennox Lewis last served as the division’s recognized undisputed champion, defending his WBC title and winning the WBA/IBF belts from Holyfield in their November 1999 rematch in Las Vegas. Lewis was stripped of the WBA title just prior to his April 2000 knockout win over Michael Grant, for failure to honor an ordered mandatory title fight with John Ruiz.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox