Daily Bread Mailbag: The Fallout From Usyk vs Fury

Boxing Scene

The Daily Bread Mailbag returns with Stephen “Breadman” Edwards going deep into the undisputed heavyweight title fight in Saudi Arabia, looking at Oleksandr Usyk’s greatness and what went down between Tyson Fury and Usyk.

Assalaam alaykum Mr Edwards,

I hope this finds you and your family well. I am writing to you to compliment Tyson Fury on fighting what to my eyes was his best fight in years, if not his life. I’ve not been as high on Fury as you, but Saturday’s fight definitely reflected your assessment of the mancunian more than my own. He fought his most disciplined fight since his win over Wlad Klitschko and probably the very best fight of his career. His conditioning and timing was considerably better than in his trilogy with Wilder and he was able to fight off the back foot far more effectively than in the first fight against Wilder. 

However, I am also writing to commend Oleksandr Usyk for being what I currently believe is the best boxer alive today. Usyk was already an all time great, but this win (I believe) moves him above Evander Holyfield on the list of best-ever cruiserweights and moves him deep into the conversation as a top 10 heavyweight in history. Usyk weighed in at 223 pounds (the announced weight was incorrect and later corrected). He was fighting at a 39 pound disadvantage, a 6 inch height disadvantage, and a 7 inch reach disadvantage. That’s more than 17% of Usyk’s body weight. 

I understand that rehydration makes a big difference at the lower weights (and there’s no reason for a heavyweight to dehydrate for a weigh-in), but that’s equivalent to a 21 pound weight disadvantage for Inoue at super bantamweight and more than a 25 pound weight disadvantage for Crawford at welterweight. 

While I don’t believe that Fury is as good pound for pound as Spence, Fulton, or Luis Nery, I definitely think that Crawford and Inoue would struggle more than Usyk has to win against the same odds. Usyk is doing what Inoue and Crawford are doing, if with less highlight-reel results, then certainly against DRAMATICALLY bigger odds. 

He is BEATING GIANTS. My hat is off to the man from Crimea whose victory at the present time is reminiscent of Joe Louis defeating Max Schmeling (with the obvious caveat of Fury not being Russian, nor of Britain being aligned with Russia in its invasion). I completely agree with your last mailbag response saying that Fury needed the fight more in terms of legacy, but it definitely meant more to Usyk and his country. He managed that performance with an absurd amount of weight on his shoulders and I can’t criticize AT ALL his rising to the occasion. It was a historic victory. How do you currently rate Usyk in your personal pound for pound rankings? How do you weigh his two history wins against Fury and Joshua? Let’s all take some time to give The Cat his flowers. Thank you again for all you do for the sport.

Very respectfully,

John 

Bread’s Response: All Hail King Usyk! What a performance! I thought Fury fought well. But I think his best career performance was Wilder II. But Usyk didn’t allow him to do what Wilder allowed him to do….Different fighters and different approach.

I don’t want to start comparing Usyk and Holyfield. But you wrote in….I think Usyk’s cruiserweight run was more difficult in terms of opponents. But Holyfield had a much deeper field of great fighters to overcome at heavyweight. Head to head it would be a war for the ages. They have the same intangibles in terms of who’s better. I still think Holyfield has a slight edge but that’s just my opinion. Different eras. I appreciate both. Both ATG. The two best cruiserweights ever. 

Heavyweight is more difficult because the division is so deep. I think Usyk rates high head to head. But I don’t know if he’s a top 10 heavyweight ever because his resume is not that deep. But here is my thing. Usyk can’t help when he was born. He can only fight who is available to him and he has no real misses. So I will never nitpick his resume. He doesn’t care who he fights. And he doesn’t care where he fights them. That matters. 

After the fight I said on my twitter that Usyk, Crawford and Inoue are now in a three-way race for not only P4P best but Fighter of the Decade. You’re correct Crawford and Inoue have more highlight reels. But Usyk’s results may be more impressive. 

I really don’t know who the best P4P fighter is. It’s extremely tough. I feel like Usyk’s resume is the best. But I feel like the smaller fighters that Crawford and Inoue have fought are better in a P4P sense but the fights aren’t as BIG because Usyk fights at heavyweight. For right now I will say it’s a 1a, 1b, 1c type of thing. It will most likely come down to who has fought most recent… Right now it’s Uysk’s turn. In August it will be Crawford’s.

Usyk’s wins at heavyweight are excellent. Joshua and Fury are excellent fighters and they are the best heavyweights of this era. So right now Usyk beat the best two heavyweights of his current era. Usyk is the best heavyweight of this era and the best heavyweight of every era is a HOF. In this case a HOF and ATG. 

Hello sir,

Long time reader, first time writer, admire your mailbag work as it helps understand not only boxing but many things in life also.

Olexander Usyk is my man, really proud of him. He IS an amazing athlete and a personality. BUT after re-watching the fight I can not stop thinking that Fury actually gave him chances Usyk exploited for 100%. As I see it, basically Fury tried to confuse Usyk, to play games with him, to overwhelm his brain with feints and tricks and in the process setup proper range and tools to do damage (Tyson’s right uppercut worked pretty well). He is a great entertainer and it was a great show to watch.

But I think it was a wrong approach: Usyk has so much processing power in his head and his  willpower is immense, he is 100% in killer mode, so you could not overtrick him, you don’t play with him, you should actually fight him.

I think in a rematch Tyson is better to be that physical, mean, going to all-out war Tyson Fury we met in Fury-Wilder II and III. As far as my boxing experience tells me, it’s not quite easy to switch this war mode on, but sometimes it’s the only way. What do you think?

Love both guys. 

God bless them.

Gratitude for your work. Peace to you and your family

Sergey, Tel-Aviv

Bread’s Response: There were 3 people talking in Fury’s corner. But I heard SugarHill talk about Fury’s leg and pressing the fight. So I’m assuming he meant for Fury to step to Usyk and step into big right hands. But I will ask him when I see him to be sure. I also felt Fury did better while attacking. But here is the thing. Usyk has a say in Fury’s approach. Wilder maybe a bigger puncher than Usyk. But Wilder is also an easier fighter to press because he throws one BIG shot and he needs room for that shot. Usyk uses his feet to step in and step around. He’s constantly probing. He throws short, clean shots that don’t look like much but they have a wear-down effect. Usyk also is very determined to come forward. Usyk actually boxes in a technical, come forward, technician style. And he’s very physically strong. Fury has really good instincts. He knows what he can do and what he can’t do. And pressing Usyk means putting himself in harm’s way with a fighter who is a late-round shark. A fighter who gets stronger as the fight goes on. A fighter who is hitting his body and breaking him down slowly. I believe if Fury could’ve come forward, he would have. Usyk didn’t ALLOW it. So we can say if Fury comes forward he wins. But coming forward is not natural to Fury. And it means he has to expend more energy punching. 

Usyk’s stamina is also an issue because if you get exhausted with him he stops you. Fury got exhausted boxing. Imagine if he upped his punch count and took more punishment…So I don’t know if Fury can keep that up for 12 rounds. 

On the flipside I believe the smaller pressure fighter or fighter who needs to expend more energy doesn’t serve well in historic rematches. Let’s look at some. Duran vs Leonard. Duran was great in the first fight. In the next two fights he didn’t have the energy to pressure Leonard the way he did in the first fight. 

Joe Frazier vs Muhammad Ali. Frazier’s effort in the first fight was monumental and it’s the greatest pressure performance in heavyweight history. But he lost the next two fights. Not because of lack of effort. But because his style is not as energy efficient as Ali’s.

Billy Conn vs Joe Louis. Conn was stopped in both fights. But he was much better in the first fight. Conn wasn’t a pressure fighter but he needed to move all night vs Louis and he just couldn’t do it in the rematch.

Michael Spinks vs Larry Holmes. Spinks pulled off one of the best wins of the 80s when he fought Holmes. But in the rematch many feel he lost. He certainly didn’t perform as well in the rematch although he was given the decision.

From my experience. From my observations. And regarding history. The smaller, less energy efficient fighter has a harder time in the rematch. It doesn’t mean they can’t win. But it’s historically tougher. If Usyk pulled off the rematch it would move him up even higher on the ATG list. Because when you can outperform historical trends, it serves as an indicator that you’re special. Although I picked Usyk in this fight. I’m not as certain he wins a rematch because of what I know about smaller fighters who put up historic efforts vs great bigger fighters in rematches.

Your prediction was very impressive on the Fury-Usyk result!

Bread’s Response: Thank you. But check this out. I was too lazy to run back up to the casino and take Denys Berinchyk. I feel like big swarmers who move up, have drastic cliff falls. Navarrete has been in a performance slump and part of his success is his size. He’s moved up from 122 to 135….See Miguel Berchelt…..

After Usyk’s win I felt like it would inspire Berinchyk. Thanks again. All hail King Usyk. Great win and great weekend of boxing.

What’s up Bread,

Your heavyweight 220 theory showed to be a good one this weekend. I think this win should make Usyk #1 p4p. Do you agree? I’ve noticed a commentator on YouTube that seems to really be sticking up for every person who popped for illegal drugs. They’ll say things like it wasn’t enough to help or bad supplements made them do it and they couldn’t have known.  It feels like they are often afraid to see fighters around at fights etc.. Fighters can be very touchy and have egos.  

Have you had any issues with fighters hearing what you may have said about a PED situation and if so how did you handle it? I usually am skeptical when people pop because no one ever said I did it because I wanted to win so bad.

How common is it that people use small amounts of drugs micro dosing and using drugs ask masking agents for more obviously illegal drugs?  

Thanks for the mailbag I look forward to it every Saturday!

Bread’s Response: Here is the thing about my heavyweight theory. It’s TRUE. The people who love BIG heavyweights are science guys. I hold them to that because it’s a scientific fact that the more mass you have, the more maintenance that mass needs. Meaning it’s harder on your heart and lungs. You don’t see many distance runners that are 250lbs. There is a reason for that.

So in an endurance based sport, if the smaller man is durable, he will have some advantages in agility, quickness and dexterity. At the point of fatigue the bigger man becomes a BIGGER target. So while size does matter, it matters both ways.

I also never say a good big man beats a good smaller man. Because again it’s not true. It’s a fight by fight basis. And in historical match-ups, it’s close to 50/50. For every fight where you can show the naturally bigger man winning, I can show you one where the naturally smaller man won.

If anyone puts Usyk #1 I wouldn’t argue. Right now I’m going to say it’s a 1a, 1b, 1c thing. 

I don’t get into if a banned substance helps anyone or not. If it shouldn’t be in your system, it shouldn’t be in your system. I also don’t single out fighters or bash them if they pop dirty. If I’m asked I state my opinion and that’s that. And I don’t talk about fighters that haven’t popped dirty. So I say that to say, real recognize real. And I’ve never had an issue with seeing any fighter in person. And it’s not something I worry or care about because I’m not a disrespectful person. Besides, why would a clean fighter have an issue with a trainer who is in favor of a clean sport? If they popped dirty, they certainly couldn’t blame me…

Hello Mr. Edwards,

Reflecting upon Usyk vs. Fury it has me thinking about Usyk’s ability to make the proper adjustments mid-fight. He has been in several fights where things haven’t looked too good for him, but he makes mid-fight adjustments and just keeps winning. You have talked about a fighter being a GUN and always delivering. Usyk is definitely a GUN in this way. This brings me to my question. Who are some of your favorite fighters that are big-time mid fight adjusters? And what fights in particular were they at their best when having to make a mid fight adjustment?-Chris from Chicago

Bread’s Response: Favorite mid-fight adjusters and adjustments… Sugar Ray Leonard was boxing Hearns in their 1st fight. His movement was good but he wasn’t winning enough rounds. In the 6th round, he literally went bipolar on Hearns and turned into a killer and started walking down the puncher. Greatest performance in the history of the welterweight division. 

Terence Crawford is the best mid-fight adjuster in this era along with Usyk. I feel like this mid-fight adjustments aren’t always tactical. I feel it’s instinctive. These special fighters compute what is working and not working. They have top tier determination so they never stop trying. And at some point they find something. I don’t even know if they can articulate how it happens. But their instincts allow them to stop what was working against them, and start doing more of what will work for them. All of these fighters have next level will. And in close fights at the elite level, often it comes down to who tries the hardest. It seems simple but it’s not easy. The judges feel this effort and it’s why these guys usually WIN.

I probably won’t be the only one to write this, but just in case I am: That referee stopped J-rock for a lot less than that.

Bread’s Response: Right. I received a handful of emails basically saying what you just did. I know some will say there were bigger stakes for Usyk vs Fury than there were for Adames vs Jrock. I know some will say Fury has a history of fast recovery and Jrock doesn’t. I won’t argue any of that because that will make me a fool. Of course the lineal heavyweight championship of the world is bigger than an interim middleweight title fight. And obviously Fury has shown remarkable recovery getting up from every fight he’s ever been dropped in to win, besides the Usyk fight. But here is the thing. Jrock has only been dropped by one fighter and that is Jermall Charlo. He got up to win rounds in that fight…. And if we go by history he was hurt early in the Adames fight and he came back the very next round and won it. So there was a precedence set…More importantly Jrock was never down vs Adames and he was never helpless up against the ropes EITHER. He was actually punching, making a boxing move WHEN the fight was stopped. So Adames vs Jrock was stopped for MUCH less than what transpired in Usyk vs Fury. But I get that Usyk vs Fury was for BIGGER stakes. So I’m NOT going to complain that the fight was NOT stopped.

But enough about me talking about my experience with my fighter because OBJECTIVITY allows you to be more credible. Again, I am not upset that the ref did NOT stop the fight. I LIKE conclusive endings. My issue is WHEN he decided to call the knockdown.

The rules state that a knockdown should be called if a fighter is held up by the ropes BECAUSE of a punch. Well Fury was held up by the ropes 5 times by punches. Just look at the volley when Usyk first hurt him with the left hand. He wasn’t playing possum. He was HURT and his sense of balance was OFF, especially from the very first shot that got him in trouble. The referee didn’t call any of those FIVE instances knockdowns. 

But he waited until Fury was slumping in the ropes, helpless and Usyk was moving in for a debilitating blow vs a DEFENCELESS fighter. No one can argue that Fury was not DEFENCELESS at that moment. So the TIMING of the call was dubious and opportunistic in favor of Fury. 

I also didn’t like that the referee gave Fury a very long count with slow instructions then grabbed his ARM to guide him back to the corner. That’s doesn’t sit well with me because you’re taking the competitive advantage away from Usyk while catering to Fury in my opinion. If a fighter is so unsteady that the referee has to help him back to his corner which is how the referee obviously felt or he wouldn’t have done it, then maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to continue to fight.…

Again I don’t mind the fight being allowed to go on. It was a great fight and I love conclusive endings. But imagine if Usyk was allowed to throw that shot where Fury was slumped over in the corner. That would’ve been a conclusive ending….. So if you’re in agreement with allowing Fury to go OUT on his shield, then let him go OUT on it!! Don’t intervene until he’s incapacitated. But don’t be a biased opportunist. Allow him to show his remarkable recovery WITHOUT any help. Let him show he could’ve recovered from the punch that Usyk was about to land while he was slumped OVER in the corner.

One marginal split second decision is not a big deal. No one is perfect. No one gets them all right. And a referee has a really tough job. But the referee contradicted his previous actions as we saw. He also has been involved in multiple controversial fights. Adames vs Jrock, Usyk vs Fury and many people forget Pacquiao vs Horn. When it’s happened this many times it’s not a coincidence or random misjudgment. It’s a trend.  

Hey Bread, Usyk put on an absolutely incredible performance against Fury. I was especially impressed with how he managed to adapt to Fury throwing that uppercut as he came in. My question is, now that we know Usyk is historically good, how would he fair vs some of the consensus greatest heavyweights of all time:- Ali- Frazier- Foreman – Tyson- Holyfield- Lewis- Louis – Holmes.

Thanks, Sam

Bread’s Response: You know you’re in rare company when you get mentioned with basically the top 10 heavyweights ever. I won’t disrespect Usyk and break these fights down. What I will say is he wouldn’t win them all but knowing how clutch he is, I don’t know if he would lose them all either. Usyk is a great fighter and he can’t help when he was born. I appreciate and respect him.

Hi Mr. Breadman. 

I just saw Fury-Usyk. I’ll only refer to one single item from this formidable fight. If I were referee, I would have stopped the fight in round 9. Fury was out and not defending himself. However, he has shown out-of-this-world recuperative powers (see Fury-Wilder 1). Do you think it is reasonable for a referee to take the fighter’s past into account to evaluate if a fight needs to be stopped? Carlos. From Hermosillo, Mexico. 

Bread’s Response: I think a fighter’s history should be taken into account. No doubt about it. I also believe stakes should be counted. I think if the losing fighter can punch or not should be taken into consideration. I think it should also be taken into consideration if the fighter who hurt his opponent runs out of gas and is a good finisher. To answer you directly everything should be taken into consideration.

Tyson Fury does not have a great chin. But he has great recuperative powers. Some of the best recuperation in boxing history. And if any fighter should  be allowed to fight through trouble it should be him. But an official can’t play with the rules and be inconsistent. The knockdown was only called when Fury was helpless and slumping on the ropes. He was held up by the ropes several times BEFORE that. If the ropes holding you up from a punch, quantifies a knockdown, then just CALL it when it happens. But don’t wait until it happens 5 times, then when you see he’s about to get blasted with a BIG punch while helpless to make a call that you overlooked several times before. 

People are looking over the DETAILS. What gets lost in this is, many feel the right man won the fight. And that’s the problem in boxing. If Usyk would have lost then there would be outrage. But the point is, Usyk got screwed and only his greatness allowed him to win. In a 50/50 competitive fight, everything COUNTS.

After the knockdown, look how SLOW the instructions were given and how the referee guided Fury back to his corner. With Fury’s recovery power, unless he’s ko’d cold with 1 shot, then it’s almost impossible to stop him under those circumstances.

Hey Bread,

Thank you as always for providing the incredible insight that you do, week in, week out. I saw Usyk describing his dream fighter and for heart he had Arturo Gatti. My instinctive reaction was slightly surprised I didn’t see Ali or Evander there, two fighters I know Usyk holds in very high regard. It got me thinking about heart. I’ve seen it in many fighters but in slightly different ways..e.g. I think Gatti’s heart is different from Ali’s or Wilder’s. I recall your (legendary by now) puncher categorisation from years ago – how would you describe different hearts?

All the best,

Ash

Bread’s Response: Great question. I have received more emails about those Puncher Categories than I have ever received about any other mailbag I have ever done in over 14 years. The ironic thing is I did that off the top of my head. 

As for the heart categories. There are different types of heart. There is Competitive Heart. I consider guys like Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitshko to have competitive heart. They fight everybody available for them to fight. They may lose by ko, but yet seek out big challenges. They aren’t balls to the wall fighters in terms of style, but they will take tough challenges and take tough smoke.

Then there is Kill or Be Killed Heart. Fighters like Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti and Matthew Saad Muhammad have this type of heart. They are vulnerable but great fighters who often get hurt. When they do, it’s not so much tactics that help them. It’s their Kill or Be Killed gene that they have to simply just go harder and bite down and throw caution to the win. 

Then there is Pride Heart. These are fighters who have had moments they weren’t proud of then the next time faced with a tough moment they were willing to die because of their pride. For example Vitali Klitshcko, surrendered in his fight with Chris Byrd because of a legit arm injury. He caught criticism because he was winning. The next fight time faced with adversity vs Lennox Lewis, he was willing to LOSE an eye. I think that was directly contributed to the Byrd fight.

Then there is ICONIC Heart. These are the guys who aren’t so vulnerable. But they have the ability to adjust and overcome just about every scenario. They never stop trying to win. But Not just with Balls to the Wall fighting. But with actual tactics and will. Fury and Usyk are both in this category along with greats like Ali, Holyfield and believe it or not a fighter like Tim Bradley is also in this category. There are others who don’t get enough credit for their heart because some are so good they don’t have to show it often. ICONIC.

A look at their records shows Usyk has no misses, he fought everybody in their own backyard in addition to being Olympic champion. This will probably sound wild but looking close all of Fury’s opponents have been hand-picked based on size, style or age – even the long-reigning Klitschko was old. If I’m Fury I want to stay at range behind a hard jab and one-two, target the body when I can, tie up and maybe fight a little dirty. Usyk has shown a tendency to complain to the referee, so killing the pace of the fight along with Fury’s usual showboating etc. may be the one way to frustrate Usyk and get into his head. Going speed for speed boxing at mid-range is a recipe for disaster. Bullying forward as against Wilder won’t work either as Usyk is too coordinated and too fast. Fury does look to be coming in lighter on this wavelength. If I’m Usyk, I want to set a high-pace in the Saudi heat, make the big man carrying that extra weight work hard, try to get out to an early lead and target the eye. If the eye opens up early that will further tire the heavier man through the fight. Fury’s tendency has shown he loses concentration at times, not just against Ngannou, and he tends to always make the same defensive moves. This problem will surface worse if Usyk can mentally and physically tire him, opening up opportunities for his usual shot-peppering style.

Usyk doesn’t want to wear any shots from such a big man, but fortunately for him his defense relies a lot on slipping shots and according to Compubox he gets hit by far the least of all top heavyweights at 19%. This could be key as he is faster and more coordinated than Fury who is ungainly at times. Ultimately it’s likely that whoever controls the pace of the fight wins this one, much of the ability to do this will depend on how they feel about each others power. The choice of officials worries me. It’s been said that a sign a big fight isn’t on the level is when they bring in one judge who almost nobody ever heard of, and we seem to have that in this case with the Spanish judge. We also seemed to have that in Wilder-Fury 1. On top of that Mark Nelson is a bad referee in my opinion.

Bread’s Response: I usually don’t post emails that are time sensitive. But your breakdown was very good. Each part of it was accurate.

Now that Ryan Garcia’s B samples have also come back positive, what happens next in terms of protocol and punishment? 

Bread’s Response: Ummmm…. From my knowledge now Team Garcia will have to present his case and prove his claims. Garcia has made several accusations about being set up among other things…. 

Science has done its part. The test results are what they are. Now I’m assuming Garcia will have a chance to prove that the PED was in his system by a mistake or again he was set up. 

I don’t know how long that will take. So let’s just wait and see. Due process.

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