There can be only one.

A film analogy felt appropriate after the debut of the audacious preview commercial for the undisputed heavyweight clash dropped this week. Borrowing from western, gladiator, and anime influences among others, the point was driven home. A showdown is coming:

02/17: Lineal World Champion Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KO, WBC) vs. TBRB/Ring World Champion Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KO, IBF/WBA/WBO)

Fury vs. Usyk could easily have happened in 2023 but we haven’t had to wait long to get the showdown this year. There were some stumbles getting here. Fury, after another round of nonsense retirement talk, rendered a humiliating performance in his last outing. Fury was dropped and forced to work for a decision against boxing debutante, if MMA badass, Francis Ngannou.

It was a far cry from the fighter who unseated Wladimir Klitschko for history’s crown and won an epic trilogy with Deontay Wilder. Fans will be hoping to see that guy in February.

Usyk seemingly never shows up unprepared but, depending on how one saw a shot along the belt against Daniel Dubois, he might be lucky to be here. Fury, never above fouling an opponent for advantage, has the size and guile to rough the former undisputed cruiserweight king up. Usyk has the boxing IQ to handle size as he showed in twice beating Anthony Joshua and the skill to give Fury fits. 

It might not be a great fight but it’s the most necessary fight in the division. If only one division were to have a single recognized king, it should be heavyweight. The heavyweight championship remains the pinnacle of the boxing world, the real best in the game. Fury is already the rightful champion, the man who beat the clear man in Klitschko. 

Can he become the only champion? Or can Usyk join Evander Holyfield as undisputed in boxing’s two highest points on the scale?

On a card also featuring entertaining junior lightweight titlist Joe Cordina and a cruiserweight rematch between lineal king Jai Opetaia and former king Mairis Briedis, Fury and Usyk will give boxing its first undisputed king since Lennox Lewis.

The Other date to Circle

For fans who like volume in their title fight action, one week after Fury-Usyk a tripleheader from Japan will capture the eyes of hardcore fans with an intriguing bantamweight main event headlining. Fans can look forward to:

  • 02/24: 118 - TBRB #2 Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KO, WBC) vs. #3 (115) Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KO)
  • 02/24: 118 - #4 Takuma Inoue (18-1, 4 KO, WBA) vs. Jerwin Ancajas (34-3-2, 23 KO)
  • 02/24: 115 - #4 Kosei Tanaka (19-1, 11 KO) vs. Christian Bacasegua (22-4-2, 9 KO); vacant WBO

Nakatani had already made a positive impression before 2023 but his knockout of Andrew Moloney turned heads. Nakatani is going for a title in his third weight class with the frame to move beyond bantamweight rapidly. Could the rival for the great Naoya Inoue be right in his backyard? Santiago won’t go easy and could give us an idea of how close we might be to a little bit of civil war in the lower weights.  

Additional Title Fights in February


02/08: 140 - World Champion Teofimo Lopez (19-1, 13 KO, WBO) vs. #10 (135) Jamaine Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KO)

02/16: 130 - #5 O’Shaquie Foster (21-2, 12 KO, WBC) vs. Abraham Nova (23-1, 16 KO)

02/16: 108 - #4 Adrien Curiel (24-4-1, 5 KO, IBF) vs. #7 Sivenathi Nontshinga (12-1, 9 KO) 

02/17: 200 - World Champion Jai Opetaia (23-0, 18 KO) vs. Mairis Briedis (28-2, 20 KO); vacant IBF

02/17: 130 - #2 Joe Cordina (17-0, 9 KO, IBF) vs. Anthony Cacace (21-1, 7 KO)



Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.