As turning points go in the annals of boxing history, what Oleksandr Usyk did in altering the direction of his undisputed heavyweight title fight against Tyson Fury was something to behold.

As the seventh round closed Saturday in Saudi Arabia, Usyk had spent the past two rounds having his head jarred, his legs wobbled and his fight plan stunted by a series of heavy-handed blows landed at will by the longer, taller Fury.

It appeared Fury was poised to produce a convincing triumph against the smaller Usyk, especially as the Ukrainian retreated to his corner trailing on all three scorecards – judges Craig Metcalfe and Mike Fitzgerald extended Fury’s lead to 68-65.

Yet what some pundits predicted would be a boxing session capable of turning dull instead transformed in rounds six through nine into a classic for the ages in which both men fully revealed the depths of their talent and drive. 

Before the eighth round began, Usyk’s fate was at hand.

“Fury was having his way,” Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler of Fury’s American promoter, Top Rank, told on Saturday while working the promotion’s card at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. “Then he got tagged, and it all changed.”

Usyk, 22-0 (14 KOs), embraced the desperation and turned the most significant heavyweight fight of the generation into a fight-of-the-year candidate in the eighth round by unleashing an offensive onslaught, bloodying Fury’s nose and reddening him under the right eye, closing the session with a hard right that rattled Fury’s head.

The damage clearly weakened Fury, who responded as if he had nowhere to go to escape the pressure.

In the decisive ninth round, he didn’t. 

Usyk scored a damaging combination and hammering rights and lefts that sent Fury into full retreat, with a wicked left hand sending Fury helplessly reeling backward to ropes that somehow kept him upright but prompted a count from the referee that essentially saved Fury at the bell.

Afterward, Usyk’s promoter argued the fight should’ve been stopped.

The way Fury, 34-1-1 (24 KOs), battled through the final three rounds proved the referee acted properly in letting the bout continue. And when the scorecards were read, that ninth-round knockdown had indeed won the split decision for Usyk on Fitzgerald’s third and decisive scorecard.

Celebrating afterward, former long-reigning heavyweight champion and Usyk’s Ukrainian countryman Wladimir Klitschko hailed what qualified not only as a source of inspiration for their war-torn country, but as a measure of revenge after Fury closed out Klitschko’s dominant reign in 2015.

Usyk “showed that with technique, you can get much further in boxing than just with power,” Klitschko said on the DAZN broadcast. “He has the power of a man, but his power is his heart.

“I’m really proud tonight of Oleksandr Usyk, and I’m really proud to be Ukrainian.”

Klitschko marveled at Usyk’s rally.

“He didn’t get distracted by all the tricks Tyson Fury was trying to do,” Klitschko said. “He had his system. He stayed on his line. He was just waiting for his opportunity to make full contact and, in the ninth round, he did it.

“I’m so proud Oleksandr Usyk didn’t let up. He believed he would win this fight from the first round until the last round. And [that insistence] paid off.”