By: Sean Crose
“May 25 marks a major moment in my career when I move to the Heavyweight division,” says the16-0 Oleksandr Usyk. “At Cruiserweight I did it all and became the undisputed champion and that is my goal now in the Heavyweights.” The 32 year old Ukrainian fighter is one of the most highly regarded practitioners in the fight game, courtesy of the fact that Usyk took complete ownership of the Cruiserweight division after besting Murat Gassiev last summer in the final bout of the World Boxing Super Series. Since that time, Usyk has been expected to move up to the heavyweight, having no more worlds left to conquer in the division he dominated.
Usyk’s opening bout in the big guy’s division will go down on May 25th at Maryland’s MGM National Harbor and will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service. The 36-5-1 Carlos Takam will be Usyk’s first heavyweight opponent. Having given heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua an impressive battle in 2016, Takam (who ended up losing to Joshua in the 10th round) is no one’s tune up fight.
“Usyk has achieved everything in the Cruiserweight division,” Takam says. “I am ready to welcome him to the new world of Heavyweight boxing,” said Takam. “I can promise that this will be a great fight and I will provide Usyk with a huge test on his Heavyweight debut. I have huge ambitions of my own in the division and this fight will provide me with the chance to prove that.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing appears happy with matchup. “Takam is the perfect test for the Heavyweight debut (of Usyk),” he says. “A big strong, all action fighter who will welcome Usyk into the fold with a heavy arsenal.” Yet Usyk is clearly looking beyond his respected foe.
“This is the ultimate challenge,” he says, “and it begins on May 25 against Carlos Takam. It’s a tough first fight but I need to test myself against world class opposition on my new road to undisputed.” The Heavyweight division that Usyk now aims to make his own is dominated by a series of colorful, high level fighters. Aside from Joshua, WBC champ Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury (who many consider to the be the lineal champ) tower above the division’s landscape. At 6-3, Usyk is somewhat small compared to his new peers. His skill set, however, speaks for itself.