Tyson Fury’s exciting 11th-round stop in Deontay Wilder put Manchester City and Manchester United on a collision course at the top of the boxing heavyweight division.
Fury emphatically settled the argument in his trilogy with Wilder in Las Vegas, embellished the American knockout artist three times and also climbed off the canvas twice even in the middle of a nightmare round four to seal the glory of an instant heavyweight classic.
The gypsy king, who has often been photographed wearing United shirts, was now supposed to be on his way to an all-British blockbuster with Anthony Joshua, but a few weeks ago a Ukrainian champion was through a significant key in the works.
Former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk took his place at the top table among the box’s big men and set up a clinic to take Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO belts via a unanimous points decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Josha’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed on Saturday that AJ had activated his rematch clause for yet another incline at Usyk, with the return tentatively scheduled for March next year.
Fury will likely have the winner of Dillian Whyte v Otto Wallin next on the agenda as his WBC mandatory, but – remember this is of course boxing – a fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship should be possible later in 2022.
Joshua v Fury for All the Marbles would undoubtedly mark the biggest event in British boxing history, with Usyk now cast in the role of arch party spoiler.
However, the enigmatic Eastern European could certainly bring an element of local hostility to the fore … because of his sympathy for Manchester City.
Usyk is friends with his compatriot and City left back Oleksandr Zinchenko. In November 2018, the day after he knocked out Tony Bellew in his last cruiserweight competition, Usyk took to the Etihad Stadium for City’s 3-1 derby victory over Fury’s beloved United.
The champion was photographed in the City locker room with a club scarf – an event that was remarkable if only Ederson did not look like a less intimidating individual when posing with one of the most formidable batsmen on the planet.
An intuitive tactician who enjoys solving problems during competition and gets ripped off by genius … whose boxing has its own Pep Guardiola in 2021, it’s probably Usyk.
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Now, if Fury v Usyk comes true, we should not expect Oleksandr to walk around in Ricky Hatton style for Blue Moon, even though he’s part of the odd weird mind game or two. Imagine that the match takes place at Old Trafford and Usyk chooses to turn the city’s anthem! Perhaps the best way to get to Fury during the pre-match formalities would be to go drunk Bert?
Either way, this generation’s potentially biggest heavyweight match has a clearly defined blue corner and red corner – something for City and United fans to rejoice over.
Meanwhile, if Watford’s favorite son Joshua is looking for signs to join the Usyk rematch, he should perhaps look away from the Hornets’ recent habit of losing 5-0, 6-0 and 8-0 to Guardiola’s Premier League champions.
Is a Manchester derby with a difference between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk something you would like to see? Follow City Is Our editor Dom Farrell on Twitter and join the discussion in the comments section.