Oleksandr Usyk tops Tyson Fury in split decision to win undisputed heavyweight title

Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia. — Oleksandr Usyk earned a split decision victory against Tyson Fury on Saturday, becoming the first undisputed heavyweight boxing champion in the four-belt era.

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Usyk, 37, of Ukraine, improved to 22-0 with 15 knockouts, ESPN reported. He entered the bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, holding the WBA, WBO and IBF belts.

He defeated the 35-year-old Fury (34-1-1, 24 knockouts) to take his WBC championship. It is the first time that the heavyweight title has been unified since Lennox Lewis held three belts in 2000, according to the cable sports news outlet.

The judges scored the bout 115-112 and 114-113 for Usyk, and 114-113 for Fury, The Guardian reported.

Usyk called the victory “a great day,” according to the newspaper.

“Thank you so much, my God, Jesus. Mister Excellency, thank you,” Usyk said after the bout. “It’s big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country.”

Fury said he believed he had won the fight, The Guardian reported.

“I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won majority of them,” he told reporters after the bout. “And I believe it was -- what can you do? -- one of them decisions in boxing.

“We’ve both put on a good fight. Best we could do. And, you know, his country’s at war. So people are siding with a country at war. But make no mistake, I’ve won that fight in my opinion, and I’ll be back. We’ve got a rematch clause.

“You know, I thank Jesus for all the victories he’s given me. I’ve dropped a split decision to the good little man, and I thank him again in the mighty name of Jesus. We go back home to our families and we’ll run it back in October.”

The close fight turned in the ninth round of the 12-round bout, when Usyk nearly ended the fight and knocked down Fury, ESPN reported. It was only the eighth time that Fury had been sent to the mat in his career, according to The Guardian.

The two fighters are expected to battle again in a rematch, perhaps as soon as October, The Guardian reported.

“Of course!” Usyk said in the ring after the decision. “I’m ready for a rematch. Listen. We do a good fight, yes?”

“Yeah, for sure,” Fury said. “We go back, have a little rest-up, spend some time with our families, and we’ll get it back on in October. Like I said, I believe I won the fight, but I’m not going to sit here and cry and make excuses. It was a good fight.”

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