Boxing: Oleksandr Usyk crowned undisputed heavyweight boxing world champion with win over Tyson Fury

Oleksandr Usyk has been crowned undisputed heavyweight world champion, after a split-decision victory over Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia.

The contest was evenly poised, until an emphatic ninth round for Usyk, when he sent Fury stumbling dazed into the ropes, only to be saved by the bell. 

The Ukrainian kept his foot on the gas through the final three rounds, earning the nod on two of the three scorecards to hand Fury his first-ever defeat.

Usyk becomes the first lineal heavyweight world champion since Brit Lennox Lewis in 2000.

Usyk got off to a good start, but Fury found his stride in the fourth round, ripping his opponent with vicious shots to the body. The fight soon turned in the Ukrainian's favour again, with Fury forced to take a standing count in the ninth round, after being wobbled badly by a left hook.

Fury managed to hang on until the bell, but he struggled through the final three rounds of the fight, as Usyk chased him down to edge him out on the judges' scorecards. 

Speaking after the bout, Fury was adamant he'd done enough to win the fight, suggesting the judges were swayed by the plight of Usyk's native Ukraine, currently engaged in war with Russia.

The fight agreement includes a rematch clause, which Fury intends to enact.

Oleksandr Usyk after his win.
Oleksandr Usyk after his win. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I believe I won that fight," Fury says. "I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won majority of them and I believe it was - what can you do? - one of them decisions in boxing.

"We've both put on a good fight - best we could do - and, you know, his country's at war, so people are siding with a country at war.

"Make no mistake, I've won that fight in my opinion and I'll be back. We've got a rematch clause."

A tearful Usyk says he's willing to grant Fury an immediate rematch.

"It's a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country... it's a great time, it's a great day," he said.

In the co-main event, Australia's Jai Opetaia won a unanimous decision over Mairis Briedis of Latvia to win the vacant IBF cruiserweight title.

Earlier on the card, Kiwi David Nyika earned a fourth-round knockout of German Michael Seitz to extend his undefeated streak to nine.