By: Sean Crose
Oleksander Usyk, known as the undisputed, unquestioned king of the cruiserweight division, is now making his way to heavyweight. Long expected, the 16-0 Usyk’s first match in boxing’s big weight class will be against a fellow undefeated fighter, the 14-0 Tyrone Spong, in Chicago’s Wintrust Arena on October 12th. The scheduled 12 rounder will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service, and will be promoted by Matchroom Boxing, which Usyk has teamed with. Usyk’s first divisional opponent may not be a top name, but Spong is a legitimate contender nonetheless, currently ranked fourth in the WBOs official list of top heavyweights.
“I am very excited to make my heavyweight debut in Chicago on October 12, live on DAZN,” says Usyk. “Spong is a fast and powerful heavyweight who has had much success in the ring. I must come through this test to challenge for the world heavyweight title. I look forward to seeing everyone there.” The heavyweight division is a very interesting place at the moment, with names like Ruiz, Joshua, Fury, and Wilder populating the scene. Usyk is eager to have his name enter the conversation.
“Usyk’s heavyweight debut is one of the most hotly anticipated boxing moments of 2019,” says promoter Eddie Hearn, “and personally, I can’t wait to see it.” In just over fifteen fights, the Ukrainian is already considered by some to be one of the best boxers on the planet. “Oleksandr is a phenomenon who dominated the cruiserweight division becoming undisputed after just 15 fights,” says Hearn, who would like nothing more than to see his fighter do the same at heavyweight. First, though, there’s the matter of Spong, who Matchroom describes in a press release as “having joined the sweet science after leaving a stellar kickboxing career behind, winning 91 of his 100 bouts in a 13-year career littered with accolades and titles.”
“After achieving most of my goals as a kick boxer and becoming one of the most decorated champions in the history of the sport,” says Spong, “I wanted to test myself in the difficult and challenging sport of boxing.” Spong, who fights out of Florida, makes it clear he doesn’t see himself as anyone’s stepping stone. “I have worked tirelessly during the last three years,” he says, “and now have the opportunity to prove my worth as a boxer against perhaps the best pound for pound, and most technically sound boxer in the world. Some may think the challenge may be too difficult, but I believe in myself, and look forward to being victorious on October 12.”
The challenge may not be too difficult for Spong, but there’s little doubt that Usyk’s resume is impressive. Tony Bellew, Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis, and Marco Huck, high level competition all, have all fallen victim to Usyk during the course of the man’s last four fights. As a winner of both the World Boxing Super Series and an Olympic Gold Medal, the fighter now has one of the best pedigrees in boxing as he moves up to heavyweight.