Boxing in 2024: Fury v Usyk just one of many big fights we could see this year

Tyson Fury
World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is nearing a unification with Oleksandr Usyk

Another big year lies ahead for fans, and Betfair's boxing writer Frankie Monkhouse takes a look at what we can expect to see in 2024...

  • Fury could fight Usyk this year in Dubai

  • Joshua is likely to tackle Ngannou soon

  • Beterbiev will have too much for Smith

Happy New Year, and welcome to my first boxing preview of 2024. It promises to be a fascinating season packed with major bouts as some of the sport's biggest names prepare to face off for major honours. I can't wait to see what's in store for followers of the noble art.

The boxing schedule begins with a bang as England's Callum Smith faces Russian knockout artist Artur Beterbiev in the early hours of Sunday for the IBF, WBC, and WBO world light heavyweight titles in Canada.

I'll take a brief look at Beterbiev v Smith at the end of this article, offering my big-fight predictions and sum up the latest betting odds available at Betfair.

But before then, let's look ahead to what 2024 has in store, including a potential thriller.

Another crossover fight

Remember crossover bouts between boxing champions and MMA fighters were the stuff of fantasy, little more than a conversation piece between two well-oiled party-goers standing in a kitchen in the wee small hours? Well, today, thanks to the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Tyson Fury, and Jake Paul, crossover fights are becoming a regular occurrence in boxing promotions worldwide.

You'll likely remember former UFC heavyweight champion and knockout artist Francis Ngannou. He's the man who put Tyson Fury on his bum in Saudia Arabia late last year with a perfectly-timed hook.

Ngannou lost his 10-round boxing debut on points to the busier Fury but emerged with the respect of boxing fans everywhere. He's now set to return to the squared circle, where he'll battle another British heavyweight, Anthony Joshua on 8 March.

I must say I was surprised when this bout was announced, especially after AJ's promoter, Eddie Hearn, was less than complimentary about the Fury vs Ngannou announcement and resulting fight. This is a chance for Joshua to score an important win by beating a dangerous opponent.

It will do nothing for his global ranking, but it's a chance for Joshua to land a knockout and embarrass Fury, who struggled against the same opponent despite his lack of experience in boxing.

Joshua is the pre-fight favourite on the Betfair Sportsbook, where he trades at 1/61.17. A KO/TKO win for the Englishman makes more appeal at 3/101.30, while a points victory works at 13/27.50.

For those chasing an upset for Ngannou in his second outing, you'll find him at 4/15.00, which is shorter than I expected.

The one we all want to see

There have been rumours circulating of a unification bout between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. To be fair, these rumours are nothing new and have been flying around the press since the Ukrainian beat Joshua in London and then in a Saudi rematch. But there does seem to be some truth in the gossip, and we're undoubtedly heading in the right direction.

If Fury and Usyk finally share a ring this year - most likely in Saudi Arabia for crazy money - it'll give us boxing fans something we've wanted for too long now: one unified world heavyweight champion.

But will that be Fury or Usyk? You can have your say on the Betfair Sportsbook, where you'll find another victory for the unbeaten Fury at 8/111.73, while there's 11/102.11 on Usyk winning and 16/117.00 the draw.

Who wins this battle of two unbeaten heavyweight champions? That depends on Fury. If his head is in the game and his preparation goes according to plan, he should be too big, strong, and tall for Usyk. I'd expect Fury to come into the ring as heavy as ever - and that's saying something - then use his many advantages over the smaller man.

Usyk is a sublime boxer, as he demonstrated against Joshua, but I don't think he'd deal with a bulky Fury and his jab-jab-grab approach.

Imagine being a former cruiserweight champion with a monstrous heavyweight in Fury leaning his weight on you in the clinches. That would steal the energy from Usyk's legs and fast, making him a more stationary target than we've seen in the past. He'd then be a target for Fury's big shots in the middle and later rounds.

Beterbiev v Smith prediction

You can follow this fight live on Sky Sports on Sunday from 04:00 GMT.

Beterbiev brings a fearsome record detailing 19 wins from as many starts, with all fights ending inside the distance. A Russian fighter with a 100% knockout average isn't something to take lightly, and that's reflected in the pre-bout betting odds available on the Betfair Sportsbook.

Beterbiev backers will find their man trading at 1/51.20, and his form makes that stance difficult to oppose.

Fancy a play at better odds? You'll likely find something to take your fancy in the method of victory market. The champion is 2/51.40 to win by KO/TKO or 5/16.00 for the first points decision of his career. I'm backing him for a late stoppage, covering rounds 7-12 at a handy 11/102.11.

Liverpool's Callum Smith arrives in Canada with his card showing 29 wins and one loss, with the spare inflicted by Saul Alvarez in 2021. Mundo lasted the distance with Canelo, hearing the bell to end round 12, but lost a wide points decision.

He's only fought twice since, collecting less than six rounds of action after two early stoppage wins. That inactivity will do him no favours against such a formidable opponent with dynamite power in both hands.

Back Beterbiev to Win in Rounds 7-12 @ 11/102.11

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