Frank Sanchez Sizes Up Tyson Fury: “I Knock Him Out Easily”
By: Hans Themistode
After putting together his best year as a pro, Frank Sanchez desperately wanted to kick off 2022 on the right foot.
The highly ranked heavyweight contender couldn’t have asked for a better start as he had an easy night at the office against late replacement Christian Hammer. The two clashed in the co-main event late last night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
A determined Sanchez effortlessly boxed past his man, dropping him in the final few seconds before winning every round on all three judges’ scorecards. Although the Cuban native is appreciative of every opportunity that he’s been afforded, at the age of 29, he’s interested in facing the best of the best in the heavyweight division.
At the moment, WBC titlist Tyson Fury is regarded by many as the man to beat. With Fury solidifying his standing with back-to-back stoppage wins over the hard-hitting Deontay Wilder, the British native has garnered enormous praise from his promoter Bob Arum. The 90-year-old Hall of Famer has gone as far as to claim Fury as a better all-around fighter than iconic figures such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
Still, even with Fury seemingly in a class of his own, Sanchez scoffs at the idea of Fury being a superior fighter to himself. And, if given the opportunity, Sanchez believes he’ll embarrassingly dethrone him.
“I knock him out easily,” said Sanchez during an interview with ESNEWS. “He has no boxing skills.”
While Fury is often viewed as the number one heavyweight in the world, newly crowned unified champion Oleksandr Usyk is believed to be in the mix as well.
Following a dominant run in the cruiserweight division, which resulted in an undisputed title reign, Usyk has gone on to prove that his skills translate well to the land of the big men. On September 25th, 2021, Usyk thoroughly outboxed Anthony Joshua to strip him of his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles.
But while Usyk is now only one belt shy of becoming a two-division undisputed champion, Sanchez views a possible future showdown between them as a walk in the park.
“Even easier,” said Sanchez when asked if Usyk would be more difficult to deal with than Fury. “Usyk has movement but he doesn’t have the technique that I do.”
Floyd Mayweather Doesn’t View Anthony Joshua’s Loss To Oleksandr Usyk As An Upset
By: Hans Themistode
The 2021 boxing calendar has been filled with upsets. Amongst a long list of them, was the mostly unforeseen result between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk. Although the Ukrainian star had dominated the cruiserweight division, nabbing every world title en route to becoming an undisputed world champion, his performances as a heavyweight left much to be desired.
Following a lackluster knockout win against Chazz Witherspoon and a close decision victory over fringe contender Dereck Chisora, Usyk found himself as a considerable underdog against the former unified titlist. Yet, despite the hulking muscles and his propensity for knockouts, Joshua struggled mightily. While Joshua had his moments, he was thoroughly outboxed as he proceeded to lose his WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles.
Although Usyk has been lauded for what many are considering to be the upset of the year, Floyd Mayweather becomes incredulous whenever that notion is brought about.
“That was not an upset,” said Mayweather to several reporters. “It was just that, Anthony Joshua was on TV. Everybody seen him. Usyk was a helluva fighter, a gold medalist if I’m not mistaken. But he was behind the scenes. Two guys with crazy amateur backgrounds and one guy is not being seen and another guy is being seen, then we call it an upset. No, it’s just that he was working behind the scenes and another guy was working in front of everybody. Finally, they had to meet up and Anthony Joshua came up short.”
As illustrated by Mayweather, both Joshua and Usyk enjoyed sizable success in the unpaid ranks. In the case of Joshua, he wrapped up his amateur career with a record of 40-3. In the process, the British native took home an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 games. But, regardless of how impressive Joshua was before turning pro, Usyk’s achievements as an amateur dwarfs his rival.
In addition to winning countless amateur tournaments, Usyk snagged gold at the 2012 Olympics as well. By the time he hung up his amateur gloves, Usyk aggregated a record of 335-15. Although Mayweather believes the Ukrainian should’ve never been labeled as an underdog heading into his showdown against Joshua, the former unified titlist is hellbent on regaining his heavyweight throne.
Immediately following his defeat, Joshua exercised his rematch clause. The two are now entangled in intense negations. And, according to promoter Eddie Hearn, the pair are expected to lock horns in the first half of 2022.
For the past several months, Joshua has been spotted at numerous gyms as he appears to be in search of a new coach. If the former heavyweight champion has yet to make a final decision, Mayweather urges the British star to pick up the phone and give him a call.
“I told him from the beginning, he can come and I can teach him some pointers.”
Roy Jones Jr.: “Usyk Beats Canelo Easy In My Opinion”
By: Hans Themistode
After carefully surveying the cruiserweight landscape, Oleksandr Usyk was proud of what he accomplished. From 2016-2019, Usyk successfully dethroned every cruiserweight world titlist. In the process, the Ukrainian star became an undisputed champion.
With little left to accomplish, Usyk opted to try his hand at the heavyweight division. While his first two results resulted in lackluster wins over the likes of Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora, Usyk had everything clicking in his most recent appearance against Anthony Joshua. Though he was pegged as a sizable underdog, Usyk made oddsmakers eat their words as he went on to dominate the hulking former titlist to begin his own championship reign.
In all likelihood, Usyk is heading towards an immediate rematch with Joshua during the first half of 2022. But while the pound-for-pound star is focused on proving that his win over Joshua was legitimate, he’s slowly but assuredly begun looking at his former weight class.
In recent months, Canelo Alvarez has expressed his desire to become a cruiserweight world champion. Officially, the newly crowned undisputed super middleweight titlist will face the winner of the upcoming contest between WBC cruiserweight belt holder Ilunga Makabu and Thabiso Mchunu.
Should Alvarez successfully nab another world title, Usyk revealed that he would be willing to return to a weight class that he once dominated.
“I can fight him at cruiserweight,” said Usyk to BoxingInsider.com.
While news of Usyk’s willingness to face Alvarez at the cruiserweight 200-pound weight limit sparked intrigue amongst fans, former four division champion Roy Jones Jr. believes a showdown between them would be an utter mismatch.
“To me, Usyk is too big for Canelo,” said Jones Jr. during an interview with IFL TV. “Usyk beats Canelo easy in my opinion.”
Although Jones Jr. suspects that Usyk would go on to dominate Alvarez due to their size difference, the newly inducted Hall of Famer believes Usyk’s success as a heavyweight would be untenable. To further back his claim that Usyk could be forfeiting future glory for immediate triumph, the former four-division champion points to recent history to further prove his point.
“Usyk has no reason to come down and fight Canelo,” continued Jones Jr. “Usyk is the heavyweight champion of the world. Why would you go to cruiserweight, when you’re the heavyweight champion of the world? Look what happened when Chad Dawson went down from light heavyweight to fight Andre Ward at 168. That was the end of his career. Why would you do that to yourself?”
Seemingly at the top of his game and after picking up notable wins against Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins as a light heavyweight, Chad Dawson willingly dropped down to the super middleweight division in 2012 to take on unified champion Andre Ward. Despite being a consistent fixture on numerous pound-for-pound lists, Dawson was thoroughly dominated as he was dropped three times and later stopped in the 10th round.
Though Dawson would later return to the light heavyweight division, he was never quite the same. In his first appearance as a full-fledged light heavyweight since Ward, Dawson was brutally knocked out against Adonis Stevenson in the very first round. His career would continue to spiral downward as he registered losses to fringe contenders Tommy Karpency and Andrzej Fonfara.
In a similar move, Jones Jr. also drastically moved up and down in weight nearly two decades ago. In 2003, after stopping Clinton Woods in the sixth round to defend his light heavyweight titles, Jones Jr. opted to move up to the heavyweight division to take on WBA champion John Ruiz. Although Jones Jr. did his best to not overload his body with too much weight, coming into his heavyweight debut at 193 pounds, his durability seemingly suffered soon after.
Following his victory over Ruiz to capture a heavyweight world title, Jones Jr. stripped a considerable amount of muscle from his frame to return to the light heavyweight division. While he picked up a few wins here and there, Jones Jr. was no longer the pound-for-pound star most were accustomed to seeing. The former multiple division champion would go on to pick up eight of his nine career losses after making the move back down in weight, five of which came via stoppage.
In addition to Jones Jr. wanting Usyk to steer clear of a return to the cruiserweight division due to the weight discrepancy, as the Florida native sifts through the names available to the newly crowned heavyweight champion, he believes there’s a bevy of big fights available to him currently.
“You got Tyson Fury, you got Deontay Wilder, you got Anthony Joshua again, you got Andy Ruiz. You got so many big guys who are in the weight class that you are champion at right now that it makes no sense. Unless it’s way more money that you’re going to make which he’s not because you vs. Fury right now is probably one of the biggest fights on the planet. You vs. Joshua again is also a big fight.”
Eddie Hearn: “I Think Canelo Would Fight Usyk”
By: Hans Themistode
Canelo Alvarez has always prided himself on challenges. Even so, once he was notified of his possible future opponent, the Mexican native was a bit shellshocked.
Following his 11th round stoppage victory over Caleb Plant on November 6th, Alvarez sat back and thoroughly enjoyed making history. With the win, the pound-for-pound star became the first undisputed super middleweight champion of all time. While Alvarez continued to enjoy his moment in the sun, Eddy Reynoso, head trainer and manager of Alvarez, was quietly plotting his next move.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the former Trainer of the Year, pleaded with Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC sanctioning body, to allow Alvarez to move up in weight to take on WBC titlist Ilunga Makabu. Though both Sulaiman and Alvarez, for that matter, were first initially taken aback, Sulaiman has allowed the pound-for-pound star to face him, something Alvarez has openly viewed as a difficult but achievable challenge.
Upon hearing the news of Alvarez’s foray into the cruiserweight division, Oleksandr Usyk, former undisputed cruiserweight champion and current unified heavyweight champion, has revealed that he would be more than willing to come back down in weight to face him.
“I can fight him at cruiserweight,” said Usyk to BoxingInsider.com. “The only thing is that I keep my belts at heavyweight. I go to cruiserweight, fight him, then go back to heavyweight. I want to stay at heavyweight.”
Despite Usyk’s willingness to move back down to a division he once ruled over, many have viewed the likelihood of a showdown between them taking place as unrealistic. Eddie Hearn, on the other hand, believes the Mexican star would absolutely face Usyk. Provided, of course, a suitable weight could be agreed upon.
“I think Canelo would fight Usyk,” said Hearn during an interview with IFL TV. “I think obviously, it would have to be at an agreeable weight. I can’t see Oleksandr Usyk coming back down to cruiserweight.”
Regardless of what Hearn believes is a realistic matchup, both men have other plans at the moment. In the case of Usyk, following his upset victory over Anthony Joshua to win his IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight titles – the pair are currently locked deep in negotiations for an immediate rematch.
As for Alvarez, after aggregating every world title at 168 pounds, as previously mentioned, the Mexican star is eyeing a run in the cruiserweight division. Nonetheless, if it was up to Hearn, the long-time promoter would much rather see Alvarez attempt to become a two-weight undisputed champion.
“I personally think that Canelo should look to become undisputed at 175. I think he can do it. To be undisputed in two different weight classes would be incredible.”
Andy Ruiz Jr. Hopes Oleksandr Usyk Doesn’t Make The Same “Mistakes” He Did
By: Hans Themistode
The biggest moment in the career of Andy Ruiz Jr. fills him both with pride and sorrow.
On June 1st, 2019, Ruiz Jr. climbed through the ropes as a significant betting underdog. Although many were attempting to predict the round in which he would get stopped by Anthony Joshua, Ruiz Jr. simply ignored the critics and went on to create history.
After peeling himself up off the deck, Ruiz Jr. did what many believed was unthinkable, as he stopped Joshua to rip away his world titles. With the win, Ruiz Jr. became the first fighter of Mexican descent to become a heavyweight champion.
Admittedly, the newfound fame got to Ruiz Jr.’s head. Going to the gym became an afterthought as he focused more on partying and drinking as much booze as possible. The lack of attentiveness ultimately led Ruiz Jr. to have a transient title reign as he was pummeled by Joshua in their immediate rematch six months later.
Since then, Ruiz Jr. has sat back and watched in awe as Oleksandr Usyk has created history of his own. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion has recently stomped into the hometown of Joshua, thoroughly outboxing him and winning his world titles.
Although Ruiz Jr. doesn’t know Usyk on a personal level, he’s hoping that the newly crowned champion keeps his head on straight.
“I wouldn’t want him to make the same mistakes I did,” said Ruiz Jr. during an interview with Brian Custer on The Last Stand Podcast. “Getting all the belts, partying, doing all the dumb stuff, and not worrying about keeping those belts.”
The road to redemption has been a long one for Ruiz Jr. After spending a year and a half on the sidelines, the former Mexican champion resurfaced with new head trainer Eddy Reynoso. A noticeably slimmer Ruiz Jr. would go on to score a wide unanimous decision against Chris Arreola on the 1st of May earlier this year.
More than anything, Ruiz Jr. is hoping that with more focus, he’ll regain those very titles that slipped through his fingers. But, in the meanwhile, the 32-year-old is fairly confident that Usyk won’t fall victim to the same pitfalls that he did.
“I’m pretty sure Usyk is gonna do the right things.”
Anthony Joshua: “F*ck Being Humble, I’m Done With F*cking Losing”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua has been both gracious in victory and humble in defeat.
Following the first loss of his career to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June of 2019, Joshua placed his arms around his Mexican rival and allowed him to receive his well-earned spotlight. Joshua would continue to heap praise onto the shoulders of Ruiz Jr. but inside, he was angry. Six months later, Joshua scored a one-sided victory against Ruiz Jr. to reclaim his world titles.
In what appeared to be deja vu, Joshua once again took his defeat well. The former Olympic gold medalist was thoroughly outboxed by Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th, earlier this year at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom.
Much like his first defeat, Joshua gave full credit to Usyk for pulling off the win. But while Joshua has seemingly taken his losses well, he’s reached his breaking point.
“F*ck being humble,” said Joshua during an interview with IFL TV. “I’m done with f*cking losing.”
In an effort to bring about more consistent winning at the top level, Joshua appears to be seeking help from some of the top trainers stateside. Amongst the more notable names, Joshua has visited the gym of Eddy Reynoso and has been seen joking and laughing with pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez. Joshua has also visited the gym of Ronnie Shields, where he was seen receiving tips from WBC middleweight belt holder, Jermall Charlo.
Joshua’s need to break free from trainer Rob McCracken, appears to be stemming from what many found to be a puzzling game plan the night Joshua squared off against Usyk. Known for his ability to box and move, Usyk employed that very tactic to outbox Joshua and dominate down the stretch.
Despite being considerably bigger than the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Joshua never used his physical attributes to bully his man. Instead, the British native seemed content with boxing on the outside, a game plan that was widely criticized.
Throughout most of Joshua’s career, the former unified heavyweight champion has expressed the value of learning the ins and outs of the sport. He’s also preached the importance of showing respect and sportsmanship. However, with another defeat now plastered to his resume, Joshua is just about through with his whole nice guy routine.
“I’m done with trying to learn the sweet science. He might get thrown on the floor in the next fight because this is war. It’s just straight war.”
Bob Arum: “Whatever New Trainer He [Anthony Joshua] Gets, He Ain’t Gonna Beat Oleksandr Usyk”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua is seemingly on the prowl for the next lead man in his corner.
After suffering a close but clear unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th, in front of his hometown crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom, Joshua appears to be ready for a change.
The British native was openly criticized by media pundits, fans, and his fellow boxing contemporaries, for the game plan his team attempted to implement on fight night.
Usyk, 33, is known for his terrific boxing ability. With a 2012 Olympic gold medal, as well as an undisputed title reign in the cruiserweight division, the prevailing thought process surrounding his showdown against Joshua, was that the extremely muscular unified champion would use his size and girth to his advantage.
To the surprise of many, Joshua sought to outbox his much more skilled opponent. Ultimately, Joshua’s latest defeat has seemingly pushed him away from long-time head trainer Rob McCracken. Recently, Joshua has been seen making the rounds around several boxing gyms as he appears to be in search of a new lead voice. Amongst the many trainers Joshua has looked into, are Ronnie Shields, Eddy Reynoso, and Robert Garcia.
At the moment, Joshua has yet to officially switch trainers. However, if the former unified heavyweight titlist decides to seek help outside of his comfort zone, promoter Bob Arum views it as a complete waste of time.
“Whatever new trainer he gets, he ain’t gonna beat Oleksandr Usyk,” said Arum during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “Not now, not next year.”
With Joshua invoking his immediate rematch clause, the pair will lock horns again during the first quarter of 2022. An apoplectic Joshua was originally taken aback by what Usyk was able to accomplish in their first showdown. Despite being the much smaller man, the pound-for-pound star dominated the middle of the ring and sat in the wheelhouse of Joshua for long stretches of time, unafraid of the assault that was heading in his direction.
In the 12th and final round, Usyk appeared to be on the verge of scoring the knockout win. He pounded a hapless Joshua relentlessly against the ropes in the final seconds of their contest. With just a few months remaining until the two square off once again, Arum shakes his head as Joshua appears to be cramming last-minute knowledge into his cranium.
No matter whom Joshua picks as the man who will lead him into battle, Arum is of the belief that at this point in his career, Joshua simply doesn’t have the time.
“Usyk is too smart for him and he’s a southpaw. Joshua is not going to learn in six months what he never learned, which is how to fight a southpaw.”
Eddie Hearn Only Gives Deontay Wilder A Puncher’s Chance Against Dillian Whyte, Anthony Joshua, And Oleksandr Usyk
By: Hans Themistode
Like many who were watching, Eddie Hearn was glued to his television set.
This past weekend, both Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder staged one of the most epic heavyweight battles in recent memory. The two clashed at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and were bombs away from the opening bell. With each man scoring numerous knockdowns, Hearn was on the edge of his seat.
By the time the dust cleared, it was Fury who was the last man standing, scoring an 11th round stoppage win. Despite Wilder picking up his second straight knockout defeat at the hands of Fury, Hearn couldn’t help but tip his cap to the hard-hitting former titlist.
“I think his credibility has gone through the roof,” said Hearn during an interview with IFL TV. “Although he looked like his tank was empty after two rounds, he stuck in there. He could not even stand up and he kept going. I give him credit, fair play.”
Wilder, 35, may have seen his bid to become a two-time heavyweight champion come to an end, but the Alabama native is far from done. According to head trainer Malik Scott, Wilder is already planning a return to the ring, but not before a long rest.
As for what could be next for the Olympic Bronze medalist, there’s a long list of highly-ranked contenders that Hearn believes could make for intriguing showdowns. Amongst them, are the likes of Dillian Whyte, newly crowned heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, and long-time rival Anthony Joshua.
Matchups against any of those previously mentioned names, however, would see Wilder as a prohibited underdog. At least, in the opinion of Hearn. While he respects Wilder and the ridiculous knockout power he brings to the table, Hearn is steadfast in his belief that unless Wilder lands his money punch, he’ll not only lose to Whyte, Usyk, and Joshua but he’ll do so quite easily.
“Whyte would do exactly the same to Wilder that Fury did, in terms of being too big and too strong but could also get KO’d. AJ, too sharp, too good a technician but could also get KO’d. Usyk would school Wilder, but could also get KO’d.”
Tyson Fury: “If I Trained Anthony Joshua, He’d Definitely Beat Oleksandr Usyk”
By: Hans Themistode
There is absolutely no love lost between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury. For years on end, the two have gone back and forth with one another. At one point, a matchup between them appeared to be on the horizon. However, things have failed to materialize.
Despite Fury believing that Joshua is nothing more than a muscular brute with no true skills, Fury is willing to offer him a helping hand.
On September 25th, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom, Oleksandr Usyk upset the applecart by scoring a surprisingly dominant victory over Joshua. Usyk – who came into their showdown approximately 20 pounds lighter – boxed, moved, and at times, even bullied Joshua en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Following his defeat, Joshua shortly announced that he would invoke his immediate rematch clause. Promoter Eddie Hearn has since stated that he believes the pair will tango once more in the first quarter of 2022.
While Fury has never been too fond of his fellow British rival, the current WBC heavyweight titlist has revealed that both he and his trainer, would have no problem offering their level of expertise.
“I know if trained Anthony Joshua, me and Sugar Hill trained him for this next fight, he’d definitely beat Oleksandr Usyk,” said Fury to Boxing on BT Sport.
Heading into their showdown, the skills of Usyk were mostly dismissed due to the size and girth advantage of Joshua. Regardless of those assumptions, the Ukrainian had little to no trouble navigating the heavyweight waters. Usyk controlled the center of the ring early on and closed strong in the final round, even appearing to have Joshua on the verge of hitting the deck.
Although it’s unclear of whether or not Fury, or Hill for that matter, would be willing to train Joshua, the WBC belt holder wants to assure his fellow Britt that his services will come without a price tag.
“I would be open to doing it. I’d do it for free because I don’t need the money. We would take on that challenge.”
Dr. Ironfist Passes The Torch to Usyk
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian boxing legend and former two-time WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, currently the mayor of the country’s capital city of Kyiv, honored his countryman Oleksandr Usyk today, symbolically “passing the torch” to the man who put on a boxing display for the ages last Saturday in defeating former unified heavyweight world champ Anthony Joshua of the UK in London.
Vitali, who amassed a sterling record of 45-2-0 with 41 KOs, was the more feared of two Klitschko brothers who ruled boxing’s heavyweight division for more than a decade (his younger brother is Wladimir, who, unlike his brother, was not present today or in London for Usyk’s victory).
Mayor Klitschko symbolically awarded Usyk a WBC title belt as part of the ceremony.
Vitali Klitschko was a boxing gunslinger, and these days his reputation often suffers by his being unfairly lumped in with his younger brother’s more cautious, “jab and grab” style, when in truth Vitali seldom clinched his opponents, threw copious amounts of punches, and was blessed with a granite jaw that allowed him to fight with his hands held low. His career knockout percentage of 87 percent ranks among the best ever. He held the WBC heavyweight title twice, the second time winning it in his first fight after returning from over three years out of the ring due to a knee injury.
And the elder Klitschko brother was mightily impressed by what he saw when Usyk bravely took on a much bigger man in Joshua, fighting with skill and aggression and emerging the victor, winning the WBA, WBA, and IBF titles.
“I once again congratulate you on your victory and want to present a symbolic gift to you. You now hold four heavyweight championship belts, but you do not have a WBC belt in this category yet,” Klitschko told Usyk.
“And you will definitely win it,” an enthused Klitschko continued.
“I am presenting you with the first WBC belt with a large Ukrainian flag, which was made for the WBC Convention that took place in Kyiv in 2018. This is to make you lucky and motivated! After all, your idol, Muhammad Ali, also held such a belt,” Klitschko continued.
Also, present via video link to the ceremony was WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, whose organization gave Vitali the title of “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion.” Usyk thanked Klitschko for the honors and good wishes and told Sulaiman that the WBC strap would be the next trophy that he collects.
Usyk has expressed the desire to now spend time with his family and wants any rematch with Joshua to take place in his homeland of Ukraine.
You’re Looking At The Best Heavyweight In The World
By: Hans Themistode
Was he ever truly in the conversation? Of course not.
The best heavyweight in the world had ultimately come down to a pair of British natives and an American with a heavy right hand. Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder all looked the part.
Joshua was a Greek God. His body was seemingly made from granite, his good looks made all of the women melt and his propensity for knockouts fit the bill perfectly. Tyson Fury didn’t have all of the hulking muscles. But he had quite possibly the best attribute on his side, reputation. Sure Fury could have an occasional lackluster showing, but with wins over Dereck Chisora, Wladimir Klitschko, and Deontay Wilder – Fury’s placement amongst the best in the world is well warranted.
Although Fury and Joshua stole most of the headlines, former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder was never forgotten. His physique seemed punitive and his fighting style could be described as both archaic and one track-minded. That said, Wilder holds arguably the most deleterious right hand in boxing history.
It was those three, no one else, who was considered the best that the heavyweight division had to offer. But while they enjoyed the superlative words hurled in their direction and eyed matchups against one another for heavyweight supremacy, Oleksandr Usyk stood quietly in the shadows with a gap-toothed smile.
The Ukrainian has never been viewed as an afterthought. As an amateur, Usyk racked up a record of 335 wins against just 15 losses, making him one of the most accomplished in history. Along the way, Usyk defeated current unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and current heavyweight contender, Joe Joyce. During the 2012 Olympic Games, Usyk breezed through the competition and found himself posing for pictures as he bit into his gold medal.
Once there was nothing left for him to accomplish in the unpaid ranks, Usyk made a b-line for the pro game. In just his tenth pro fight, he easily outboxed Krzysztof Glowacki for his first world title. Then, he took down the likes of Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew to wrap up an undisputed cruiserweight title run.
Usyk didn’t immediately make his announcement but we all knew it was coming. A move to heavyweight was inevitable. But once he officially made the jump, no one noticed his entrance. The Ukrainian and pound for pound didn’t stomp into his new weight class. Nor did he grab a microphone and toss around curse-filled threats. No, he didn’t violently kick open the door, he both casually and quietly walked through.
Once inside, Usyk’s gold medal still dangled around his neck, the four major world titles that he snagged while in the cruiserweight division were also sitting across his fairly broad shoulders. Still, no one cared or acknowledged his presence.
Even with a mandated world title shot at his disposal and the opportunity to demand immediate respect, Usyk calmly allowed several to skip him in line. He gladly stood aside and allowed both Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. part two, to take place. He moved to the side again, though involuntarily, as Joshua was forced to accommodate IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev.
Even as Joshua took care of business once more and despite Usyk being guaranteed the next title shot, he openly accepted a backseat again. This time, to allow Joshua to take on Fury in an undisputed showdown. In the meanwhile, Usyk would take on amateur rival Joe Joyce.
Yet, with Deontay Wilder grabbing Fury by the hand and leading him to the dance floor, Joshua was left with defending his crown against Usyk. The game plan was simple, Joshua would placate Usyk by granting him his title shot and immediately leave him comatose on the canvas after a few rounds. Not only was that Joshua’s thought process, as he guaranteed a knockout win, but most believed their showdown would shake out in that exact same manner.
Usyk, of course, paid no attention to it. The Ukrainian continued to flash that same gap-toothed smile and made both media members and fans laugh with a quirky personality and broken English. His common catchphrase was “I’m feel, I’m very feel.” That very line even brought a chuckle to Joshua at times numerous times throughout their fight build-up.
Still, despite his effervescent attitude and accomplishments, Usyk’s time as a heavyweight was on the verge of being labeled a complete failure. After struggling with journeymen Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora in his first two dips in the heavyweight pool, many believed Usyk was in for a long and painful night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom this past Saturday night.
As the pound-for-pound star sauntered his way to the ring in front of a wildly pro Joshua crowd, his focus stood squarely on sending the masses home apoplectic. After 12 rounds of fairy one-sided action, Usyk did just that.
From the very beginning, Usyk dominated. He easily outboxed and outmaneuvered Joshua while consistently finding a home for his straight left hand. The middle rounds saw the former heavyweight titlist find a bit of his rhythm but it was Usyk who closed the show strong, almost stopping his man before the final bell.
Now, with three of the four major world titles tucked underneath his arm, the once incredulous looks that were glared in the direction of Usyk have turned into looks of worry. Those who doubted him are now sporting a sheepish expression on their face as this wasn’t the outcome many were anticipating.
Regardless of Usyk’s dominant victory, those in boxing circles will still point a confident finger in the direction of the winner of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury on October 9th, as the heavyweight division’s best fighter. Those assumptions, however, are undoubtedly wrong.
Usyk has never been second best. Not as an amateur, not in the Olympic Games, not as a cruiserweight, and certainly not as a heavyweight either.
Oleksandr Usyk On Anthony Joshua Victory: “It Was The Biggest Fight But It Wasn’t The Hardest One”
By: Hans Themistode
The resume of Oleksandr Usyk can match up with just about anyone in the entire sport of boxing.
In just his 10th pro fight, Usyk lifted his first world title against Krzysztof Glowacki. He would then go on to strip every cruiserweight belt holder of their championship status. This past Saturday night, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the United Kingdom, Usyk added to the proliferation of world titles in his possession with a fairly one-sided victory against Anthony Joshua.
Usyk admits that defeating Joshua ranks as his most impressive victory. But in terms of the most difficult contest of his career, the Ukrainian isn’t willing to go that far.
“It was the biggest fight of my career,” said Usyk following his unanimous decision victory. “But it wasn’t the hardest one.”
Usyk, 34, ignored relentless boos as he marched through Joshua’s backyard to rip away his beloved championships. As the two stood next to each other during the ceremonial weigh-ins the day prior, Joshua towered over his man. The noticeable size difference between the pair did nothing to discourage Usyk on the night.
In the early goings, the newly crowned heavyweight titlist stepped right to Joshua and took the fight to him. Usyk landed several hard left hands and slickly avoided any oncoming traffic thrown in his direction. Although many predicted Joshua would eventually score a fight-ending knockout, it was Usyk who appeared to be on his way to picking up the stoppage win.
A visibly tired Joshua wilted against the ropes in the final seconds of the 12th round and appeared relieved once the bell rung. Usyk may have snagged Joshua’s heavyweight titles with relative ease, but the pound-for-pound star refused to downplay his opponent’s performance.
In fact, even with Usyk proving that he was the far more superior boxer, he tipped his cap in respect to Joshua for everything he’s accomplished.
“We expected all of this that happened in the ring. He was the Olympic champion, he was holding all of the belts except one. What more can I say about his performance?”
Roy Jones Jr.: “He [Anthony Joshua] Just Got To Hang Out With A Killer”
By: Hans Themistode
Roy Jones Jr. has a tremendous amount of respect for Oleksandr Usyk. The former multiple division titlist has watched closely from the sidelines as Usyk dominated the cruiserweight division. Jones Jr. has also been an interested observer as Usyk made the trek to the land of the heavyweights.
Yet, no matter how much Jones Jr. reveres the Ukrainian, even he was taken aback by what took place last night.
In front of a jam-packed crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the United Kingdom, Usyk caused a huge upset as he strolled into the backyard of Anthony Joshua and stripped him of his heavyweight titles.
Even with his astute boxing mind, Jones Jr. simply didn’t expect things to shake out the way they did. With Joshua holding a considerable height, reach, weight, and overall size advantage, Jones Jr. was fully expecting him to use all of his physical attributes on the night, especially early on.
That said, Joshua conceded much of the preceding rounds before ultimately losing a fairly wide decision. Even now, as several hours have gone by, Jones Jr. is still scratching his head as to why Joshua came out so passive.
“Joshua came out and gave Usyk respect right away,” said Jones Jr. during an interview with IFL TV. “He let Usyk basically control the center of the ring, so Usyk won the first three rounds. I was surprised.”
Usyk, a former 2012 Olympic gold medalist, broke Joshua down in the first six rounds before cruising to the finishing line. In the 12th and final round, in particular, Joshua appeared to be on his way out. The muscular former heavyweight titlist languished against the ropes as Usyk connected on several unanswered shots.
Immediately following his defeat, Joshua stepped up to the podium and announced that he would be invoking his rematch clause. Since his declaration, several boxers, including Josh Taylor, and Dillian Whyte – have admitted that they don’t like the chances of Joshua heading into part two.
For Jones Jr., he isn’t entirely ruling out a Joshua victory in the sequel. But while the all-timer could have gone into the Xs and Os and described the picture-perfect game plan for Joshua to use, he abstained from doing so. In the end, the bigger alteration that Joshua can make should come between the ears.
“There are a few adjustments he can make. A lot of it is mental, a little bit is boxing but it’s more mental than boxing. He’s just got to hang out with a killer. When I say a killer, I mean a killer in the boxing ring, not outside. He’s a very good guy and that’s fine. I was a very good guy but when I got in that boxing ring, I was a killer. He’s got to get that killer mentality.”
Oleksandr Usyk Quiets The Naysayers, Beats Anthony Joshua
By: Hans Themistode
It was inevitable.
After sharing the gold medal stage in the 2012 Olympic Games, albeit in separate weight classes, heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua knew he would eventually face Oleksandr Usyk. Nine years following their Olympic triumphs, the two met at the top of the heavyweight mountain top.
Oleksandr Usyk sauntered his way to the ring with a sly smile on his face. The British crowd who booed his entrance seemingly had no effect on the Ukrainian native. As the opening round tipped off to start their contest, the crowd roared as Joshua flicked several jabs in the direction of his man.
None, however, landed as Usyk proved to be far too elusive in the early going. The former undisputed cruiserweight bounced on his toes and began moving side to side. While he seldom threw any shots, Usyk was patiently waiting for the perfect opening. That would come just one minute into the first round.
As Joshua uncorked a strong right hand, Usyk slipped the shot and landed a straight left hand. With his first connect on the night, Usyk began putting the pressure on his man. The punches of the Ukrainian may have come few and far between but he feinted Joshua to no end and caused the former unified heavyweight titlist to come out of position on several occasions.
In the following frame, Usyk enjoyed even more success. He pushed out a strong jab and used unorthodox angles to make Joshua miss on several occasions. As Joshua’s punches failed to connect, Usyk made him pay, landing numerous jabs and straight lefts.
Those previously mentioned left hands of Usyk became a consistent theme throughout their showdown. Joshua, while game, was unable to avoid the nonstop barrage of the Ukrainian early on.
Still, although Usyk remained effective, Joshua continued to move forward. As the middle rounds came rolling by, the former heavyweight titlist began finding his range. He connected on several hard right hands that seemed to stagger Usyk into the ropes. Despite the success, Usyk flashed a bright grin. From there, he moved back to the center of the ring and easily outboxed his man again.
During the seventh round, Joshua continued to attack the head of Usyk but to no avail. Seemingly through with his one-sided tactics, Joshua went downstairs to the midsection in an attempt to slow him down.
Usyk grimaced in pain during the eighth round as the work rate and pressure of Joshua continued to increase. As the rounds continued to slowly pass by, Usyk, fighting on foreign ground, refused to sit back on his laurels. The former cruiserweight undisputed champion pushed the pace and found a home for his straight left hand.
During the championship rounds, a heavily breathing Joshua lumbered to the middle of the ring. Usyk, on the other hand, appeared fresh as he continually bounced up and down on his toes. While Usyk spent the majority of their contest outboxing his man, he spent the remainder of their bout bullying Joshua. In the 12th, in particular, Usyk pressed Joshua up against the ropes and unloaded several unanswered shots.
Joshua, to his credit, had on his best poker face. He smiled at Usyk and stuck out of his tongue as he egged him on. Regardless of the hubris Joshua showed, the three judges scoring the contest from ringside simply weren’t buying it as they handed Usyk the unanimous decision victory.
Power Shots: Evaluating The Heavyweight Division
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The lack of buzz for the upcoming clash later on tonight between unified heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua of the UK and Oleksander Usyk of Ukraine has been a bit puzzling.
After all, “AJ” is the holder of a number of HW straps, and Usyk was once the totally unified champ of the cruiserweight division, the still unbeaten conqueror of the formidable and now fellow heavyweight Murat Gassiev. One would think that boxing fans would be looking forward to this clash of the titans with rabid expectation.
But in actuality, the event has been very under the radar. UK sportswriters have largely written off Usyk as being “too small” to beat their muscled Adonis. There has been a certain degree of ennui in the press reporting in general, with no small amount of resentment that Usyk has gotten in the way of the fight that “everyone” (everyone in the UK at least) wanted to see: AJ vs Tyson Fury. You’d think the name Andy Ruiz Junior just might have occurred to some of the boxing “experts” claiming that great size and sculpted muscles always determine a heavyweight fight, but alas, how soon they forget.
The final presser for Joshua vs Usyk yesterday was very civil and did little to create the kind of freak show atmosphere that people who follow was is loosely called “boxing” have gotten used to over the last couple of years, thanks to Zoomer “influencers” (one of the more annoying terms I’ve ever heard) like the notorious Paul brothers.
People argue over whether the “YouTuber,” celebrity boxing scene is good or bad for the sport, but one thing that seems sure is that a segment of people now expect a boxing match to provide a carnivalesque, freak show atmosphere that the Usyk vs Joshua title bout is sorely lacking (though Usyk did at least wear a colorful outfit to the presser that was apparently a partial tribute to The Joker).
Everything Old Is Old Again
So, is a mere high level boxing match just not good enough anymore? Would people rather shell out $70 or more to see 58-year-old Evander Holyfield look like a pitiful shell of his former self? Holyfield apparently was not deterred by his recent disastrous return to the ring against one Vitor Belfort, and still wants to face old ear-biting nemesis Mike Tyson — who is partly to blame for this trend of old fighters getting back on the boards, after cleaning up financially with his glorified sparring session against an out of shape Roy Jones Jr. — for a third time.
Fortunately, the spectacle of the always fit-looking Holyfield nevertheless looking every bit his age in the ring was so shocking that the people looking to put Riddick Bowe back in the ring have now decided against it. Anyone with a brain in their heads who has listened to Bowe talk in the last decade should have known better than to ever entertain the idea of a ring “comeback” for the man, but it took Holyfield’s ring misadventures to finally convince Bowe’s backers to back off.
But have no fear, lovers of car-crash style, old-guy boxing. Holyfield may be down, Bowe may be out, but never a guy to be outdone, James Toney is gearing up for his comeback! The only question left is: where the heck is Shannon Briggs?
Hrgovic and Makhmudov: Young Guns With No Targets
All the attention on boxing’s old-timers lately has left true up and coming possible heavyweight superstars – Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic and Montreal’s Arslanbek Makhmudov – out in the cold, begging for table scraps. The sport’s lack of structure means that truly fearsome talents like these are ignored for as long as possible by the guys at the top of the division.
Makhmudov (13-0, 13 KOs) fought last evening in Quebec against the “best” name he could convince to share a ring with him, Germany’s Erkan Teper (21-4, 13 KOs), and what some anticipated as being a “test” of the hulking Russian-born fighter’s abilities quickly developed into a farce, as the pudgy Teper, who looked like he had literally just gotten off his couch and strolled into the ring, tasted the power of the “Lion” and quickly looked for the exits.
One round was enough, as Teper stumbled around, fell down, tried to hold on, and finally got knocked down by Big Mak. Teper had no intention of coming out for round two.
Makhmudov, a truly genial fellow, sheepishly addressed the Montreal crowd following the win: “He’s a good boxer, but not in the best shape,” he said charitably of his fallen German foe.
Anglo-America’s Ukrainian Nightmares
It pays to remember the reaction of the boxing world in Anglo-America when the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, essentially took over the heavyweight division for a decade and moved it to Germany. American and British boxing scribes who should have known better engaged in all sorts of xenophobic ranting about the dominant brothers, often cynically attributing their dominance to mere “size.”
Yet when the Klitschkos finally retired, and huge men like Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, all as big or bigger than the Klitschkos, came along, that “size” argument disappeared literally overnight.
No, the real problem was that the Klitschkos had snubbed America, and England, and absconded to continental Europe with the heavyweight belts. Given the hysteria and nastiness that followed, one can only imagine that the idea of a Croatian heavyweight champion or a Russian-born, Quebec-based heavyweight champion doesn’t fill someone like Eddie Hearn with glee. Britain is now the center of heavyweight boxing, and therefore Hearn and others who run the sport are in no hurry to risk a Hrgovic or Makhmudov again taking the “glamor division” away again.
So there they sit, these young guns like Hrgovic and Makhmudov getting older by the minute, forced to sit for long periods of time and then only fight guys who can’t even begin to test them. They remain unknown by all but the most ardent followers of the sport, while the Paul Brothers and other social media celebs get all the attention, and make millions of dollars to boot.
The biggest threat to the current order for the moment, however, is posed by Oleksander Usyk, who seeks to follow in the footsteps of his countrymen the Klitschkos and take the heavyweight belts home to Ukraine. Perhaps there’s been so little buzz about this fight in boxing circles, and such casual dismissal of a great fighter like Usyk, because the latter man is the biggest threat to the new order since the brothers from Ukraine first spoiled things for the Anglo-Americans.
The powers that be simply can’t allow themselves to imagine a Usyk victory over Joshua. And no doubt should Usyk prevail, the first words out of Eddie Hearn’s mouth will be: