There are lots of words that get overused in sports. 

Legacy is one. Lebron James will have a legacy in the NBA. Tom Brady will have one in the NFL. Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko…they all left one in boxing. Most of their supporting players will be what the supporting players in any era are. 

They are names that gradually mean less and less to the mass of the generations to come. Their legacy will be their part in someone else’s bigger story. There’s no shame in that. All of history plays that way. Sports isn’t different from any other walk of life, from politics to entertainment. 

Another word that has become more used in recent times in sports is generational, as in a talent who will be a marquee memory for their generation. It transposes and overlaps well with legacy. On Saturday, we might have seen one half of the equation for just who will leave the lasting legacy, prove to be the generational talent, for this era at heavyweight.

Tyson Fury, despite his seemingly phony retirements and un-retirements and his outside the ring controversies, has stood as the unbeaten best heavyweight in the world since defeating Klitschko for the crown. Deontay Wilder gave him a great rival but he has yet to have a real peer. 

If anyone will prove that foil, or even his better, boxing fans saw him on Saturday. Oleksandr Usyk, a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and former undisputed cruiserweight champion, retained his three heavyweight belts with a majority decision win over Anthony Joshua in their anticipated rematch. 

It was a more competitive fight than their first. It was still, despite what could be called an absurd scorecard from Glen Feldman that saw Usyk down 5-1 through six rounds, a decisive win. Joshua did the work, had a better gameplan, and fought his heart out. After struggling through nineteen rounds, there was an explosion of hope in rounds eight and nine of the rematch as Joshua seemed to finally be taking control away from Usyk for the first time. 

Usyk was rocked and under fire in the ninth. Drama was high.

Then came round ten.

Some fighters have a greatness gene. It comes out under fire. With their back to the wall, the thin line between legacy and co-star is defined by fighters who have the gene. Ray Leonard had it and showed it in the first Tommy Hearns fight. Pernell Whitaker showed it late in his career against Diobelys Hurtado. Usyk dug in against Joshua, rocked him early in the tenth, survived another hurting bomb and moment of assault, and then had Joshua reeling again.

Feldman’s was the first card Usyk has ever lost as a professional. It was only the second card at the end of the night that didn’t favor him, including a draw card in the Mairis Briedis fight (still the closest bout of Usyk’s career). It wasn’t enough to reverse a boxing life that hasn’t felt loss since the 2009 Amateur world championships. 

The two best big men in the world are clear. There is a generational clash, a real one, waiting to be made.         

Futures: Usyk isn’t alone in showing some of the greatness gene. Tyson Fury has as well. Many men wouldn’t have beaten the single tick of the clock he needed in the first Wilder fight, or kept getting up in their epic third fight. These aren’t just two men who haven’t lost.

These two are men who seem willing to go through anything it takes to win. They share a special loathing of defeat. Put those sorts of wills together and boxing can have magic. Can Fury shatter Usyk’s extreme self-confidence? Can Usyk frustrate and outbox the behemoth lineal king? As expected despite another ‘retirement’ announcement, Fury has already started chattering and Usyk has said it’s the only fight he’s coming back for. Fury has yet to abdicate the WBC strap. 

Assume there is a reason for that. It might not happen until 2023. There’s still plenty of time to get it done before this year is out. It’s not the only big heavyweight fight out there. It’s just the one that matters the most.

For Joshua, there is still space to roam. A long-sought showdown with Wilder would be non-title at the moment, but they wouldn’t need a belt to add to their wealth. If Fury beats Usyk, Joshua-Fury is still worth a mint as well. The better man won Saturday but both men left with plenty to be proud of       

Cliff’s Notes…

Emanuel Navarrete is a fighter who can be outboxed for a while based on the evidence from Saturday against Eduardo Baez. Good luck outfighting him at featherweight for twelve rounds without elite skill. He remains one of boxing’s most entertaining battlers but talk of a move to 130 lbs. for someone like Shakur Stevenson might need tabling…Hector Garcia is one of the best stories of 2022. From almost out of nowhere to wins over Chris Colbert and Roger Gutierrez deserves big kudos…Omar Figueroa had a fun career but his defensive liabilities were always there and Sergey Lipinets was too schooled not to exploit them. Would Lipinets-Alberto Puello be a smart play under the PBC umbrella? 

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.  He can be reached at