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George Foreman: ‘Tyson Fury Has Met His Match’

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As George Foreman contemplated who will win Saturday’s undisputed heavyweight championship bout between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, he transported himself back 50 years, to his famed “Rumble in the Jungle” against Muhammad Ali.

“Years ago, when I fought Muhammad Ali, I could’ve won every round, but I had it put in my mind, ‘I’m gonna knock out this guy who’s never been knocked out before …’” Foreman told BoxingScene on Wednesday.

“That’s the trouble: trying to knock someone out who’s never been knocked out before. But [Usyk] has the temperament to win every round, and that’s all. Go back to his corner, drink a little water, get a quick pep talk. Just win the rounds. He has it.”

So despite his fondness for Fury the man, when Foreman was asked who wins the bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he said, “Tyson Fury has met his match.”

Much of that opinion is influenced by Foreman’s admiration for the calm determination and focus of Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs), a former Olympic gold medalist and undisputed cruiserweight champion.

“First of all, I think it’s a solid match – great matchmaking,” Foreman said. “[Usyk] is not big, and the greatest heavyweight champions we’ve had over all this time have been guys not over 6-3, like Joe Louis (6 feet), Joe Frazier (6-foot-2), even Muhammad (Ali, listed at 6-foot-3).

“He lied! He was never 6-3!

“For some reason, though, the coordination and the thinking plan travels well with the guys that size.”

Additionally, Foreman, who turned 75 in January, is alarmed by the fact that Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), at age 35, has been roughed up in bouts and left vulnerable by being knocked down twice by Deontay Wilder in 2018, twice more in their 2021 trilogy bout and again in October by former UFC champion Francis Ngannou.

“Yep, there you are … Fury, he’s been knocked down and had a couple of brutalizations, to the point that he’s ready for the taking now,” Foreman said.

With Fury perhaps remaining cautious, Usyk can let his boxing shine, Foreman theorizes.

“All [Usyk] has to do is … if he’s smart enough to win the first round, then the second round. … OK, maybe you can give up the fourth round … but then go back up and win another round,” Foreman said.

“It gets to where he’s not worried about anything other than winning it on points. He’s a solid fighter. He can take a punch. Fury’s in tough. So unless the judges are the best judges money can buy, [Usyk] should win.”

Yet Fury possesses the reach advantage (85 to 78 inches), the height advantage (6-foot-9 to 6-foot-3), the weight advantage and his own impressive boxing skill to tire Usyk out by leaning on him.

Foreman was asked if he’s deemphasizing all that.

“It’s great that he has that. All of those things you mention above are right on,” he said. “He’s got the whole package to pull it off. But not with this guy.

“[Usyk’s] been in there with big, tall guys [beating former champion Anthony Joshua twice], and he’s not afraid.

“He’s built automatically to be mentally strong. That’s just part of him. He has that ability. And that’s his main asset. He has nothing spectacular to beat Fury with but that mindset.”

Fury has sought to verbally bother Usyk, repeatedly calling him a “sausage” and worse at a recent news conference.

“Some guys, they’ve never had anything but mental toughness. [Usyk’s] one of them. Rise above and win points,” Foreman said.

Foreman was asked if Usyk becomes an undisputed heavyweight champion on top of everything else he’s accomplished, does this leave him as an all-time great since Foreman knows all of the predecessors?

“No, it sets up a great rematch,” he said, knowing there’s a signed and planned agreement to stage the second fight in Saudi Arabia in October. “First things first: the rematch.”

But would the rematch be any different?

“Sure, because Fury will know then that now he can lose. It makes for a different fight – how you train, how you get into shape. For real. Go back to the way [Fury] fought [long-reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir] Klitschko [in 2015].

“He fought Klitschko to a stand-still. And that’s the way you’ve got to fight [Usyk].

“This is an exciting match. I, of course, pull for Tyson Fury because he’s been so special for boxing. I’m a fan. But I’m not letting that sway me here. I’d like to see him stick around and win a few more fights.”

As Foreman knows, after regaining the heavyweight title by knocking out Michael Moorer nearly 20 years after his loss to Ali, nothing says more about the quality of a heavyweight champion than if he can lose the heavyweight title and then come back and re-capture it.

“There you are,” Foreman said.

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