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Action Images via Reuters
Action Images via Reuters
World News

Pope Francis blesses unique WBC belt featured in the Fury and Usyk fight

by Lydia Davies

Pope Francis has bestowed a blessing on the WBC's unique commemorative belt for the anticipated clash between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

Mauricio Sulaiman, the WBC president, revealed the adorned belt featuring the national colours of both Britain and Ukraine during the Matchroom vs Queensbury 5v5 event's press conference.

This tradition of creating special belts for major events includes notable examples such as the '24k Gold' strap introduced in 2013, and more recent ones like the 'Money Belt' for Mayweather vs McGregor in 2017, and last year's 'Riyadh Champion Title' for Fury vs Ngannou. However, this latest belt is distinguished by its papal blessing, making it a unique piece in WBC history since its establishment in 1963.

In an interview with Talk Sport, Sulaiman expressed the significance of this gesture: "The WBC's new belt now stands out above their other iterations as the only one to be blessed by The Pope," he said.

Boxing Kingdom on X referred to this gesture as "the most important blessing ever given to a boxing world title belt."

Both Fury and Usyk have been open about their Christian faith over the years.

Born into an Irish Travellers family, Fury is proudly Catholic. After his notorious match against Deontay Wilder in 2021, Fury wore a baseball cap that said “Jesus, El Rey Viene” (the King is coming) across it.

When asked about his opponent, he replied with: "I went over to him to show him some love and respect, and he didn’t want to give it back; that’s his problem – I’ll pray for him so God will soften his heart.”

He then took to social media to add: “Thank you to my lord and saviour Jesus Christ!”

After Usyk became World Champion in 2021, he lifted his belt and told journalists: “The only thing I wanted to do with this fight is to give praise to Jesus Christ.” He has also been quoted saying: "I will probably read a book, likely the Bible before I fight".

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