Heavyweight Champion of the World Tyson Fury is no stranger to hype and hoopla surrounding his fights.
Immediately after Fury unexpectedly dethroned long-reigning lineal and unified champion Wladimir Klitschko for six World Championship belts, Fury has been the face of heavyweight boxing. When Fury later added the 7th and final remaining championship belt to his collection by destroying the destroyer Deontay Wilder, he became more than a star. He became a living legend, lending to the fact that Fury has remained unbeaten and has maintained an unheard-of 100% KO rate in title defenses.
This time, however, the hype and hoopla surrounding Fury’s upcoming defense of the championship against former cruiserweight champion and current heavyweight belt-holder Oleksandr Usyk has been mainly about Tyson’s recovery from the nasty sparring cut he suffered that ended any hopes of passing a pre-fight physical anytime before mid to late Spring. With the world left to ponder the recovery time of Fury’s injury, a vast oversight is occurring. As Fury commands headlines by the demands of fans and critics alike, drawn by Fury’s star power to keep tabs on his every move, no one has questioned whether Usyk has time to recover by the rescheduled contest date.
THE LIVER SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD
In Oleksandr Usyk’s most recent fight, he fell victim to the dreaded Mexican Liver Shot, delivered by unheralded underdog Daniel Dubois. The punch was erroneously or corruptly ruled a low blow, with replays showing a very clear-cut shot to the liver that doubled Usyk over and sent him to the ground, writhing in pain and gasping for air for several minutes. Far beyond the standard ten seconds usually afforded to a stricken fighter. Although saved from a KO loss, Usyk did not escape the embarrassing event scot-free.
PSYCHOLOGICAL VS PHYSICAL
Never mind the physical damage that occurs from such a devastating liver shot, which is considerable. The psychological damage after being a victim of such a violent injury is a trainer’s and a promoter’s worst nightmare. It is common knowledge and public record that Usyk has no real expectations of beating Fury. The tell-tale signs were there when Usyk demanded a retirement payday to face Fury and kept driving up the demands until, finally, Fury moved on and scheduled an intentionally bad showing with UFC legend and Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou. Fury’s tactic worked, and he tricked many fighters into lining up to face him. Leading the charge was Usyk, so hell-bent on trying to get Fury into the ring that Oleksandr finally accepted a much lower payday than he’d demanded in the first negotiations. In his haste, Usyk is not only overlooking the fact that he cannot take the punches of a large, confident heavyweight, much less from a devastating body puncher like the 6’9 250+ pound Fury, but also made two even more crucial mistakes in his underestimation of The Gypsy King.
THE MASTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE
Oleksandr’s first mistake was not learning from Deontay Wilder’s erroneous misstep in believing Fury would not have enough time to prepare for their first fight. Fury is the master of psychological warfare, making others believe whatever they need to summon the courage to enter the ring against him, then draining the life from their bodies with his wild antics and fierce bravado.
Wilder lost everything from this one mistake and suffered some of the most devastating, embarrassing, and career-ending beatings in the history of boxing at the hands of Fury because of it. Wladimir Klitschko entered the ring a beaten man against Fury, thanks to Tyson’s wild press conference antics and chilling threats. Thoroughly shaken by Tyson’s threats, Anthony Joshua disappeared mid-negotiations for their ill-fated match and would not return the calls of his promoter Eddie Hearn. Hearn eventually found out through associates of Joshua that he had abandoned the negotiations and checked himself in to get mental help through sensory deprivation therapy. Fury used psychological tactics to trick Usyk into accepting the fight under the premise that the fight would happen far too soon for Fury to get into shape.
After the elbow cut Fury in sparring, Tyson unveiled his plan when he posted a photo on his Instagram showing his miraculous physical transformation from “Greedy Belly” to “Business Savvy Six-pack.”
Having been duped into a fight they now know they could not win and cornered into going through with the May 18 date, team Usyk is in panic mode. So in-Fury-ated is Team Usyk that they are now demanding Tyson be stripped of his title so that Usyk can hold the dubious distinction of becoming the world’s first undisputed email champion.
HOW WILL USYK ESCAPE?
The question among legitimate boxing fans is how will Usyk get out of this mess. While casual-level fans dwell on false hopes and wild conspiracy theories of photoshopped photos and Tyson cutting himself with a razor, those who truly know the sport of boxing are waiting and watching with a curious eye to see precisely what Oleksandr Usyk will now do to get out of this trap that Fury caught him in. Usyk knows that Fury is already in tremendous, unbeatable shape. Now, Tyson gets extra months to prepare and become an even deadlier version of himself than ever seen. Usyk also has physical and psychological damage to overcome. When you are KOd for several minutes from a liver shot, there is unquestionable bruising to the vital organ and confidence is out the window, especially when your next fight is against an even heavier punching marksman like Tyson Fury.
Time will tell, but this writer predicts that Usyk will pull the COVID card and return to Ukraine.