Usyk dominates Glowaski with Gold Medal Class in Gdansk
By: Eric Lunger
Undefeated WBO cruiserweight Krzysztof Glowacki of Poland (26-0) was on home ground Saturday night, at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, to take on Ukraine’s undefeated Oleksandr Usyk (9-0). This was only Usyk’s second professional bout outside his native country, having defeated Germany’s Ben Nsafoah in a third round knock out in Oberhausen in April of 2014.
Usyk, 29, turned pro somewhat late, after an interesting and highly decorated amateur career. He was the 2008 European Amateur champion at light heavyweight, the 2011 World Amateur champ at heavyweight, leading up to a gold medal at heavyweight at the 2012 London Games, where he bested both Artur Beterbiyev and Tervel Pulev. Usyk’s last professional fight, however, was in December of 2015 against a durable, crafty, but rather outmatched Pedro Rodriguez (22-1), whom Usyk clearly out boxed for six rounds before letting his hands go in the seventh for a convincing TKO.
Usyk has a tall frame for a cruiserweight, technically proficient defense, and very impressive hand speed. He came into the fight last night as a highly touted, skilled and groomed fighter with very high aspirations.
However, the road to future greatness lay through Krzysztof Glowacki.
Glowacki, 30, is probably best known to American boxing fans for his tremendous bout in August of last year against Germany’s Marco Huck at the Prudential Center in Newark. Huck came into the fight with a long proven record (including thirteen title defenses) and a reputation for being ruthless in the ring. In an action filled bout, Glowacki was knocked down early in the sixth by a well-disguised left hook and barely beat the count. Having weathered a series of hard shots for the remainder of the round, Glowacki then began to land his own, with Huck clearly wary of the Pole’s undiminished power. As round followed round, Glowacki, incredibly, gained strength and confidence, putting an increasingly worried Huck on the defensive. Then, in the eleventh came a textbook left-right combination from Glowacki that sent Huck crashing backwards to the canvas, and Glowacki ended the fight quickly as a dazed Huck was still recovering from the knockdown.
So the question going into Saturday night was: would Glowacki bring the same combination of grit, power, and skill to Gdansk, and would it be enough to overcome Usyk’s considerable physical and technical talents?
Not surprisingly the Gdansk crowd was vocal and eager from the opening bell. Glowacki obliged them by starting quickly with aggressive jabs to Usyk’s midsection. Usyk responded coolly with his own jab, and his footwork was quick, precise, and supremely agile. The second was more of the same: Glowacki came out hard, seeking to land a big left hook and Usyk continued to control the distance with his jab. By the third round, a pattern had been set. Glowacki fighting hard, coming forward, but unable to solve the problems set for him by Usyk. Usyk’s activity level, on the other hand, increased markedly. As his confidence and comfort grew, he began to dominate, sticking and moving, controlling distance, and circling to his left to avoid Glowacki’s overhand lefts.
The middle rounds of the fight were probably Glowacki’s best rounds. He was strong on his feet, continued to come forward, and obviously had a game plan for the fight – namely, to use his lunging jab to the body to lower Usyk’s hands and create an opening for the overhand left. And at no point in the fight did Usyk take Glowacki lightly. He clearly had respect for the Pole’s power and his one punch knockout potential. In the seventh and eighth, the pace of the bout slowed, and the crowd (like their favorite) grew impatient with Usyk’s elusiveness. But when Glowacki pressed forward to attack, he opened himself up to Usyk’s countering hooks.
The eleventh was a big round for Usyk. It started with him catching Glowacki with a short but crisp combination in the center of the ring (Usyk’s blazing hand speed was a factor all night), and when Glowacki, obviously realizing he needed to score at this point, tried to let his hands go, it was Usyk who beat him to the punch. The twelfth opened with a momentary flash of hope for the home crowd, as Usyk went down after tangling feet with Glowacki. However, the enthusiasm was brief, as Ukrainian went on the showcase all of his skills: his footwork, his jab, his mastery of angles. At one point he slipped a Glowacki right so radically, that he was beside Glowacki, and hit him with a right hook while standing practically at Glowacki’s right shoulder.
The fighters hugged at the final bell; Glowacki nodded and appeared to congratulate Usyk. There was no doubt as to the outcome, despite Grzegorz Proksa’s absurdly even scorecard. The cruiserweight division seems sandwiched between the always glamorous heavyweight division and the currently fascinating light heavyweight division, with the rightly anticipated Kovalev – Ward bout on the horizon. But judging from Oleksandr Usyk’s performance last night in Gdansk, we have a lot to look forward to at the 200 pound limit.