Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Winner Will Have to Face Pulev and Usyk Next
By: Hans Themistode
The biggest fight left on the boxing calendar for 2019 will take place in less than one month when former unified champion Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) takes on the man who stripped him of his titles in Andy Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs). The match will take place in Saudi Arabia on December 7th, and the entire boxing world has been buzzing.
Both fighters have been fully focused on the other as they close out their training camps shortly.
Although this contest holds plenty of significance, the winner will have no shortage of options for their next fight.
As it currently stands the WBO, WBA and IBF titles will be on the line in this bout. IBF Mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) has been waiting for his crack at the title for well over a year now. He was originally scheduled to face Joshua in 2017 but was forced to withdraw due to an injury.
His unfortunate setback hasn’t slowed him down one bit however as he has won three straight contests. Pulev now waits patiently for the results of December 7th, but he isn’t the only one standing in a mandatory position.
The former undisputed Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) made his long awaited debut at the Heavyweight division after completely clearing out the Cruiserweight weight class. Usyk stopped late replacement opponent Chazz Witherspoon in the seventh round back in October at the Wintrust Arena, in Chicago, Illinois. He is now waiting in line as the next challenger to the December 7th contest as the WBO mandatory.
Who exactly will get the next shot is where the confusion lies.
For those who are unaware, each sanctioning body is given an order in which a mandatory fight must happen. With the winner of the December 7th, bout possessing three titles, the IBF mandatory is set to be the first in line.
“Kubrat Pulev’s next fight will be for the IBF world heavyweight title,” said Pulev’s promoter. “If the Joshua-Ruiz winner decides not to fight Pulev, his next fight will be for the vacant IBF title.”
Waiting for not only the December 7th, rematch but also for another contest between Pulev and the winner might not sit well with Usyk.
“We’re going to have a problem where Usyk and Pulev both say you’ve got to fight me next,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Some belt could become vacant, because the IBF and the WBO are both going to order their mandatories after Joshua-Ruiz Jr. Unless a deal can be done with someone, you’ve either got to do that, or vacate.”
This would be a nightmarish situation for fans. Finding an undisputed Heavyweight champion hasn’t been done since Lenox Lewis accomplished the feat two decades ago with his victory over fellow hall of famer Evander Holyfield in 1999. If the the WBO or IBF belt is indeed vacated, then it will leave boxing fans waiting even longer before they can see an undisputed Heavyweight titlist.
The thought of sitting back and waiting his turn could be a frustrating one for Usyk. However, he could choose to take on another fighter in the meantime.
There have been rumbles from numerous sources that a showdown between Usyk and Dereck Chisora could take place. The aforementioned Chisora has long been critical of the fighting style of Usyk and believes he would hand him his first defeat.
A bout against Chisora could be a risky one for Usyk. He is already in a mandatory position and Chisora would provide a much sterner test than the one he received from Chazz Witherspoon. Chisora is also on a roll at the moment, winning his past three contest with two of those wins coming via stoppage.
A showdown between them might be viewed as a high risk-low reward type scenario, but Usyk’s team isn’t opposed to the contest taking place.
“We don’t know what happens on December 7,” said Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas. “But if it is possible to fight in between and not to wait for another six months, I think Chisora will be a good fight for Usyk”
As much as Usyk would hate to admit it, he has his hands tied. Pulev will receive his title shot first, which will force the former Cruiserweight champion to wait a bit longer. With that being said, there is a good chance that the winner of the December 7th rematch opts to just vacate the belt. In that scenario, we could see him and Chisora face off for the newly vacated title.
Whether a contest between Usyk and Chisora is for a belt or not, it seems as though we are heading towards a showdown between them in 2020 regardless.
Will Usyk Fight Chisora or Wilder Next?
By: Waqas Ali
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is being pushed on the forefront for many big names in the heavyweight division.
The 32-year-old was recently announced as a potential opponent for Deontay Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title based on recent performance and credentials.
Moving in the queue, he is listed No.5 on the ranking. Overlapping the likes of Adam Kownacki, Joseph Parker, Kubrat Pulev and Oscar Rivas, that had been dropped down the list.
The Ukrainian star is also eligible for a voluntary defence by Wilder.
Dillian Whyte, who is the main mandatory for Wilder’s belt has had no luck in getting that opportunity.
He is currently awaiting a response from UKADA and VADA over an adverse finding in a UKAD test taken before his fight against Oscar Rivas, whom he defeated to secure the mandatory spot.
If cleared, he will be become the mandatory challenger in February 2021, according to the WBC.
With that being said, Usyk could lead the race as this would mean that a bout with Wilder could be in the works next year.
Without a doubt, Usyk is one of the best talents in boxing today. He currently boasts a record of 17 wins (13 KOS) and no defeats.
He conquered the cruiserweight division claiming the WBO, WBA, WBC and IBF titles.
In his first heavyweight bout, he retired Chazz Witherspoon in the seventh round. Usyk’s footwork, speed and power were exceptional and well-executed.
In round six, around the 1:59 mark, he threw a blistering four-punch combination that pushed Witherspoon on the dodge of his feet and roared the crowd as they cheered for him.
He landed an astonishing 70% of his power punches and 40% of his overall shots.
In his post-fight interview, he said that he was ready for whoever is there for him next because he had been made mandatory challenger for the WBO belt.
“I am ready, I am ready to fight whoever. If they give me the [WBO] mandatory then of course I am ready to take it,” Usyk said.
Just like with the WBC, Whyte was mandatory but did not get a shot at the title. The WBO stated in that because Usyk claimed all four major belts and earned the title ‘Super Champion’.
He was also available to fight at the time of the report being released whereas Whyte was scheduled to fight on July 20th.
Boxing sources have stated that no mandatory challenger has been filled until after the Ruiz vs Joshua rematch.
British contender Dereck Chisora was named another candidate for Usyk and since he recently defeated fellow Brit David Price, he had been urging for a fight against the newly heavyweight.
His manager David Haye said: “He’s mandatory for the WBO world title and Dereck’s just won a WBO trinket. It would make sense to make the fight.”
A potential clash between Usyk and Chisora would be a huge sell. British boxing fans have taken Usyk as a fighter of a great resume, risks and rewards.
To support this point, in the fight against Tony Bellew, it generated more than 600,000 in viewership with 20,000 fans in attendance at the Manchester Arena.
The level and popularity of Usyk in the boxing world is strong and huge. He is well appreciated and strongly commended from the hardcore boxing fans who study the manly art of the sweet science.
His punches are sweet to see but sour to taste.
Vasiliy Lomachenko Believes Oleksandr Usyk Will School Deontay Wilder
By: Hans Themistode
Former undisputed Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) made a successful debut at the Heavyweight division just a few short days ago.
A jam packed crowd at the Wintrust Arena, in Chicago witnessed Usyk dismantle his late replacement foe, Chazz Witherspoon. It wasn’t surprising to see Usyk win the bout, but it was alarming to see how long it took him to get the job done.
Many weren’t expecting Witherspoon to spend nearly as much time in the ring with the Gold Medal winning Usyk. Questions surrounding his power have surfaced, and for good reason. Usyk has never been known as a power puncher. Instead, many have been in awe of his boxing ability.
With the victory, Usyk holds firm to his mandatory position in the WBO sanctioning body. He now will await the winner between current unified champion Andy Ruiz Jr and former belt holder Anthony Joshua, as their rematch will take place in Saudi Arabia in early December.
While Usyk has already made it clear that he intends on fighting for a world championship in 2020, he does have his eyes on facing another belt holder in the division, WBC champion Deontay Wilder. In an interview previously taken, Usyk mentioned that of all the current Heavyweight belt holders that Lineal champion Tyson Fury would prove to be the most difficult challenge. Wilder on the other hand, would be the easiest.
The undefeated knockout artist heard the remarks made by Usyk but was unfazed by them.
“Oleksandr Usyk isn’t a threat to me. He’s too small for me,” said Wilder. “I mean, he does a lot of movement, and stuff like that, but that don’t faze me.”
A showdown between the two Heavyweight stars is sure to be one that would interest plenty of fans. The opinions surrounding who exactly would win that aforementioned contest is up in the air.
No matter who would win such a contest, it would surely be a back and forth close contest wouldn’t it? Maybe to fans on the outside looking in, but not to the unified Lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko. He fully expects his countrymen and good friend Usyk to fully dominate that future matchup.
“He will school Deontay Wilder,” said Lomachenko.
Lomachenko did not mince words. Schooling Wilder seems a bit farfetched. He has yet to taste defeat in his 42 career contest and he hasn’t met a man that he wasn’t able to put down on the canvas. Usyk possesses a high pedigree in terms of his boxing ability, but his lack of power in his new division could be an issue. Wilder has proven, especially in his contest against both Fury and Luis Ortiz, that it doesn’t matter if his opponent is outboxing him for the majority of the contest. He can turn things around with a single punch.
With Usyk and Wilder now campaigning in the same division, the possibility of them sharing the ring to end the debate seems likely.
Projecting Usyk’s Chances Against Wilder, Fury, Ruiz, Joshua
By Jonah Dylan
Aleksandr Usyk made a successful heavyweight debut this weekend when he beat short-notice replacement Chazz Witherspoon by 7th round stoppage. We learned nothing, because this was basically just a showcase. But let’s project Usyk’s chances against the top heavyweights, because he’s heading for big things in 2020.
Here’s the thing: there’s no one who can withstand the punch Wilder destroyed Dominic Breazeale with. If he lands that, against anyone in the world, it’s over. That’s why I rank him No. 1 and would favor him against any heavyweight.
And for the record, Tyson Fury did not take that same punch. Wilder hit him with two good shots, and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how Fury got up. But it wasn’t the same punch.
Still, you’d have to think Usyk would have some success against Wilder. They’re both small heavyweights and would probably come in at similar weights, but Usyk would have a huge speed advantage. While we don’t know how Usyk’s chin will hold up against heavyweights, his performance against Murat Gassiev – a huge puncher at cruiserweight – is certainly an encouraging sign. Wilder telegraphs his punches, so Usyk’s speed and footwork would allow him to stay out of danger, at least early on.
If this fight made it to the final bell, Usyk would almost certainly be the winner. And I’d give Usyk a better shot than anyone outside Fury to go the distance with Wilder. But Wilder’s power makes him the clear favorite here.
This is the fight that the purest of boxing fans are salivating about. Fury is an anomaly in so many ways, especially against heavyweights: his head movement, activity and defense are just in another world. Sound like someone we know?
Usyk would be much, much smaller, and Fury would lean on him all night. This fight would in all likelihood go the distance and would come down to which guy was more effective at neutralizing the other guy’s jab. Usyk would have the quickness advantage, but Fury’s size would be a major problem.
Usyk might be the most skilled fighter in the world this side of his good friend Vasiliy Lomachenko, but he wouldn’t have much of an advantage against Fury. This probably wouldn’t be a very fun fight for casual fans to watch, but I see Fury as having enough success with his size advantage to get the nod.
We’ll obviously learn a lot more about Ruiz after he fights Anthony Joshua in their rematch on Dec. 7. Ruiz has elite hand speed and showed he can punch in the first Joshua fight, but there are still a lot of unknowns with him. I also don’t see a lot of scenarios where he faces Usyk in the near future, regardless of what happens in the Joshua fight.
Against Joshua, Ruiz is clearly the more active fighter. Against Usyk, he wouldn’t be, and I’m not sure he has the power to really keep Usyk on his toes. We haven’t seen Ruiz in with anyone like Usyk (really, is there anyone like Usyk?), so projecting this type of a fight isn’t an exact science.
Usyk would find a way to outwork Ruiz, who wouldn’t have the ability to end things with one punch. And Usyk would neutralize Ruiz’s hand speed with his movement, leaving Ruiz to spend most of the night trying to find him.
This is the fight Eddie Hearn had in mind when he first signed Usyk to a co-promotional contract last year. Every plan Hearn had for Joshua temporarily went off the tracks on June 1, but this fight comes back into play if Joshua can regain his titles in the Ruiz rematch.
This is a really interesting style matchup. Joshua can get outboxed for long stretches, but he usually finds a way to land enough big shots to get a stoppage. He clearly has serious problems with his defense and chin, but I’m not sure Usyk – who wasn’t really a big puncher at cruiserweight – would have the ability to hurt him.
Joshua needs to figure out how to use his jab, something that was MIA against Ruiz. If he can control Usyk from the outside, he could make things really difficult for the Ukrainian. Again, we don’t know if Usyk’s chin will hold up against huge punchers like Joshua, but there’s a path here for Joshua to control the fight without necessarily knocking Usyk out.
Still, it’s easy to see how Usyk would outbox Joshua and avoid getting hit. This would be a great matchup and would be very tough to project. I’d give Usyk the slightest of edges, but a lot depends on what adjustments Joshua makes in the Ruiz fight.
For what it’s worth, Usyk is the WBO mandatory challenger and can fight the winner of Ruiz-Joshua II if he wants. It’s also very possible that the winner of that fight will vacate the WBO belt, which would leave Usyk to fight the next highest rated contender for the belt. After Usyk, the top fighters in the WBO rankings are Fury, Joshua and Joseph Parker. So if he does fight for a world title in his next fight, it won’t be easy.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.
What’s Next For Oleksandr Usyk?
By: Hans Themistode
It was a pointless contest for Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) who made his Heavyweight debut against late replacement Chazz Witherspoon (38-4, 29 KOs) in Chicago at the Wintrust arena.
Witherspoon was never viewed as a true contender at any point in his career, nor was he viewed as a true challenge for the former undisputed Cruiserweight champion. Those sentiments came to fruition as Witherspoon was outclassed and ultimately stopped in the seventh round.
There is no denying the skill of Usyk but does he possess the size. The former Cruiserweight tipped the scale at 215 pounds, which is on the lighter side for a Heavyweight. His contest against Witherspoon did nothing for his stock in his new division. Simply put, he needs to face better opposition. If he elects too, he can simply wait for the winner of the December rematch between unified champion Andy Ruiz and former champion Anthony Joshua. Or, he could choose to continue to get his feet wet in his new division.
Let’s take a look at his options.
The former multiple time title challenger was originally slated to take on Usyk on May 25th. However, Usyk suffered a torn bicep which forced the bout to be canceled. Thoughts of scheduling a rematch between went by the wayside for various reasons.
Now that Usyk has made a successful debut in the Heavyweight division, this contest should be revisited. Takam may have came up short in his endeavors to become a world champion, but he has always given a good account of himself. A win for either man would put the rest of the division on notice.
A matchup between Alexander Povetkin (35-2, 24 KOs) and Usyk would pit two gold medal winning fighters against one another. Since losing a one sided decision at the hands of former champion Wladimir Klitschko back in 2013, Povetkin reeled off eight straight victories before he was ultimately stopped in his second bid to become a world champion, this time at the hands of former belt holder Anthony Joshua.
Even at the age of 40, Povetkin proved that he has plenty left in the tank as he defeated Hughie Fury earlier this year. Rumors circulated of these two stepping into the ring against one another in the past. The fans should hope that this fight becomes a reality sooner rather than later.
Joseph Parker (26-2, 20 KOs) is currently out of the loop in terms of a big fight. He was originally scheduled to take on Dereck Chisora later this month but was forced to withdraw due to an illness. Since back to back losses to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, Parker has gone on to stop his last two opponents. The former WBO belt holder is itching to get back into title contention. A win over the highly touted Usyk could provide him with a pathway to championship glory.
A contest against Parker seems like a tough ask of Usyk who only has one match under his belt in the Heavyweight division, however, if he wants to truly make a splash, then this is the fight to make.
Usyk Debuts At Heavyweight With Stoppage Win
By: Sean Crose
Thirty two year old Ukrainian skill master Oleksandr Usyk finally made his heavyweight debut on Saturday night in Chicago when he faced Tyron Spong replacement Chazz Witherspoon (standout kickboxer Spong was kept from the fight at the eleventh hour thanks to a positive drug test). The Usyk-Witherspoon card went down at the Wintrust Arena and was aired live on the DAZN streaming service. Usyk had been out of the ring since 2018 thanks to an injury and the pitfalls that are a regular part of the boxing business. As he slipped between the ropes for his first heavyweight battle the former undisputed cruiserweight champion boasted a record of 16-0. The thirty eight year old Witherspoon, on the other hand, entered the ring with a record of 38-3.
Photo Credit Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
First, though, the 16-0 WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol defended his title against the 20-2-1 Lenin Castillo in a scheduled 12 rounder. Boasting an impressive record, Bivol was hoping to impress. The first round was rather close, with both men picking their shots. The second round was also close, though Bivol may have landed the sharper punches. Bivol began asserting himself and dominating the action in the third. He continued to assert himself in the fourth. By the fifth it was clear Castillo would have to do something notable if he hoped to change the course of things. Bivol dropped his man with a sharp right to the jaw in the sixth, though Castillo was able to get up without appearing to have suffered too much damage.
The seventh round played out like much of the fight had to up until that point, with Bivol simply proving himself the better man due to ring generalship and sharper punching. Castillo had a moment of aggression in the eighth, though it may not have been enough to win the man the round. Castillo had his moments again in the ninth, but Bivol was simply too skilled and effective to let the tide turn. Still, Castillo landed well in the tenth. Was it enough to win the round, though? Nothing occurred in the eleventh to change the course of things. The twelfth was much like many of the previous rounds. Bivol didn’t excite, but he earned a UD win from the judges.
It was time for the main event. The opening round of the scheduled twelve rounder was a slow affair. The second round wasn’t particularly fast paced, either, though Usyk was able to land effectively. Usyk came alive in the third, landing with sharp consistency. Usyk continued to come alive in the fourth, testing his power against a full fledged heavyweight. Witherspoon started taking a considerable beating in the fifth. Usyk was starting to truly overwhelm his man in the sixth, but seemed to intentionally take his foot off the gas at times. Usyk appeared to look for the stoppage in the seventh, but Witherspoon fired back gamely. Fortunately, Witherspoon’s corner stopped the fight in between rounds.
Usyk vs. Witherspoon, Bivol vs. Castillo Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
Oleksandr Usyk will return to the ring nearly a year after he was last seen competing. On Saturday night he will be facing last minute replacement Chazz Witherspoon at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. This will be Usyk’s long anticipated heavyweight debut.
Usyk was originally scheduled to face kickboxing legend Tyron Spong, but a positive test for Clomiphene has derailed that match. Instead, thirty eight year old veteran Chazz Witherspoon will be taking his spot.
Eddie Hearn stated at the final press conference, ““When you get a call like I did on Monday that Tyrone Spong had failed a drug test, you need to move quickly or there is a chance that there is no show at all. We want to say a special thank you to Chazz Witherspoon. He has been undefeated for nearly six years now and we have talked to him about a bunch of different fights of the years. He stepped up here to take a shot at Oleksandr Usyk and we are grateful.”
The co-main event of the evening will be between Dmitry Bivol and Lenin Castillo for Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight title.
Other fighters on the undercard include Anthony Sims Jr., Jessica McCaskill, Charles Conwell, Patrick Day, and TJ Doheny.
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Dmitry Bivol (16-0) vs. Lenin Castillo (20-2-1); WBA Light Heavyweight Title
Dmitry Bivol has been angling for a big fight, but appears to have trouble getting other light heavyweight champions into the ring with him.
He’s 28 years old, three years younger than his opponent, and still in the midst of his athletic prime. Castillo will have about a two inch height advantage on Bivol. Both boxers have moderate power. Castillo has stopped fifteen of his opponents while Bivol has stopped eleven.
Both boxers also have had successful amateur careers. Castillo competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics while Bivol was a Russian Amateur Champion.
Both boxers have been fairly active. They both fought three times in 2018 and once in 2019. However, Bivol has clearly faced the better opposition.
Bivol has defeated the likes of Joe Smith Jr., Jean Pascal, Isaac Chilemba, Sullivan Barrera, Trent Broadhurst, Cedric Agnew, and Samuel Clarkson. Bivol has won three decisions in a row and never tasted defeat as a professional.
Castillo has defeated the likes of Reinaldo Gonzalez, John Cortez, and Aaron Mitchell. His losses were to Marcus Browne and Joseph Williams.
This is a fight that Bivol should win rather decisively. An impressive stoppage may help raise his profile to help him reach his goal of unifying the light heavyweight titles.
Oleksandr Usyk (16-0) vs. Chazz Witherspoon (38-3); Heavyweight Division
The original planned fight between Usyk and Spong was intriguing in that it put together two combat sport athletes from different genres in a ring together. Usyk was still considered the favorite, but it would have been interesting.
Unfortunately for fight fans, Witherspoon does not appear to bring the same intrigue into this bout as Spong did.
Witherspoon is thirty eight years old, past his prime, and will only have a slight one inch height advantage despite this being Usyk’s first fight in the heavyweight division. Not only is Usyk six years younger than Witherspoon, but he also has the edge in amateur experience. Usyk was a gold medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics while Witherspoon was a former Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion, but nearly fifteen years ago.
Both boxers have moderate power, with Witherspoon having twenty nine stoppages on his resume to Usyk’s twelve. However, Usyk has been more active despite this being his first fight in 2019. Usyk fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017. Witherspoon fought once in 2019, once in 2018 and zero times in 2017.
Witherspoon has wins against Jonathan Haggler, Ty Cobb, and Santander Silgado but nobody really of note. He has losses to Seth Mitchell, Tony Thompson, and Chris Arreola.
Usyk has defeated the likes of Tony Bellew, Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis, Marco Huck, Michael Hunter, Thabiso Mchunu, Krzysztof Glowacki, Pedro Rodriguez, and Johnny Muller. He has no defeats as a profressional.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a fight that Usyk should win rather easily. They say every fighter has a puncher’s chance, and that might be the only chance that Witherspoon has on Saturday.
Usyk To Make Heavyweight Debut Against Spong October 12th
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.
Who Will Step Up and Face Oleksandr Usyk?
By: Hans Themistode
Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) is looking to make a big splash in the Heavyweight division.
After mowing down the competition at Cruiserweight, Oleksandr Usyk is ready to move on. While Usyk campaigned in the division he fought all of the top names.
Undefeated up and coming WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki was outclassed. One of the longest reigning champions in Marco Huck was easily dispatched by stoppage in the tenth round. Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev had their once spotless records stained once they entered the ring against Usyk as well.
All four major titles in the division were wrapped around his waist at this point. He ended his career at Cruiserweight with a eighth round knockout win over Tony Bellew.
There was effectively nothing and no one left for Usyk to face so the move to Heavyweight was a well warranted one. Originally, he was scheduled to make his debut at his new weight class on May 25th against Carlos Takam. A bicep injury however, during his training camp forced him to the sidelines.
Now that he is fully healed, he is penciled in for a return in October. Unfortunately for Usyk, he has been unable to secure an opponent as of now.
So who exactly should welcome Usyk into the world of giants?
The Heavyweight division isn’t short on big name fighters, but many of them are occupied at the moment. The biggest names in the division including WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder, Lineal Champ Tyson Fury, unified champion Andy Ruiz and former unified champion Anthony Joshua are all currently booked in high profile fights.
The contenders, including Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin and Hughie Fury are all busy as well.
So where exactly does that leave Usyk? Unfortunately for the former undisputed Cruiserweight champ, it leaves him in limbo.
Usyk has never been known for taking a soft touch. With such few options at the moment there is one name in the division that would make perfect sense for him. Kubrat Pulev.
Since getting stopped by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 in his first attempt at a world title, Pulev has gone on to win seven straight fights. He is currently the IBF number one contender as well.
A fight between the two makes perfect sense. Not only would Pulev provide Usyk with a significant challenge, but it would also pave the way for the victor to take on the winner in the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz.
Usyk could of course opt for a soft touch but that has never been his style. Whomever he decides to take on in his Heavyweight debut will allow him the opportunity to announce his presence to the rest of the division.
Oleksandr Usyk Ready To Reign Supreme
By: Hand Themistode
Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) has yet to make his debut at Heavyweight, yet he has his eyes set on the Heavyweight throne.
For this that are not familiar with Usyk, the best way to describe him is a much bigger version of Vasyl Lomachenko. The loud thudding noise must be from your jaw that has currently hit the ground after that description. Lomachenko is wildly regarded as the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Usyk is that good.
This comes as no surprise, seeing how Lomachenko’s father/trainer also trains Usyk as well.
The Ukrainian born fighter plowed through the Cruiserweight division. In a short span at the weight, he defeated everyone of note and captured every world title. A move to Heavyweight was warranted as he effectively cleaned out the entire division.
Usyk’s Heavyweight debut was booked against longtime contender Carlos Takam in May. It was a decent first step for Usyk and his new venture into an unknown division. The prevailing thought was that Usyk would get his feet wet in a contest against Takam and assuming he won that bout, he would move on to take on the likes of Alexander Povetkin. If Usyk managed to pull off that victory as well, then a matchup with former unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua would take place sometime in 2020.
Like often is the case in boxing, things never go quite as planned. Usyk was sidelined with a bicep injury while Joshua lost in a mega upset against Andy Ruiz. The former Cruiserweight star views this as an opening.
Usyk and his legal team wasted no time. Shortly after Ruiz’s major upset, Usyk requested to become the mandatory challenger from the WBO. They obliged.
Tune ups and warm up contest be damned. Like many fans and experts alike, Usyk sees this as a golden opportunity to win more gold. The Heavyweight division seems to be in disarray and Usyk wants to take full advantage.
It is difficult to find Usyk’s place amongst the current crop of Heavyweight fighters. Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury are rated as the best two fighters in the division. Andy Ruiz has made his mark as a true champion and although Anthony Joshua was defeated in his last outing, counting him out would be foolish.
Currently, Usyk should be rated behind all of these men, but it won’t be for long. This level of skill from a big man a rarity. It seems only a matter of time before Usyk proves that he not only belongs but that he is the best Heavyweight in the world.
Usyk Relinquished WBO Belt
By: Shane Willoughby
The former undisputed Cruiserweight Champion of the world Oleksandr Usyk Has finally relinquished his WBO title as he looks to continue his career at Heavyweight.
The WBO title was actually the first belt the Ukranian won at the division against Krzysztof Glowacki in 2016, before he went on to complete the monopoly.
Oleksandr Usyk was set to make his heavyweight debut on the 25th May against Carlos Takam but injured his bicep in training. With Usyk unable to fight and his move to heavyweight inevitable, his belts had to be freed eventually.
The 2012 gold medallist relinquished his WBA title earlier this year and last week became the WBC emeritus champion, allowing the WBC title to become vacant. So him relinquishing the WBO belt came as no surprise.
Whilst Usyk return to the ring hasn’t yet been announced, it is certainly going to be at heavyweight. Which is interesting as it’s possible he can end up fighting for the same title he relinquished, just at heavyweight.
As a former WBO champion he moves up to heavyweight with the option to become mandatory. It is extremely likely that the WBO mandatory will be called this year.
However, with Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz scheduled for a rematch, the WBO could strip the title from Ruiz, similar to what the IBF did with Tyson Fury. Which means Usyk could fight for a vacant belt this year.
Either way, Oleksandr Usyk has many options moving forward and the winner of the 1st World Boxing Super Series at Cruserweight has expressed his hope for one at heavyweight.
What has already been a successful career, in only 15 fights becoming the first champion to hold all four belts at Cruiserweight. There is not much Usyk needs to do to cement his name in the hall of fame.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Carlos Takam: Can Usyk Make it as a Heavyweight?
By: Waqas Ali
Former unified world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk will be making his first debut as a heavyweight against Carlos Takam on May 25th at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA.
The bout will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service.
The 32-year-old Ukrainian fighter achieved stardom in the cruiserweight division – holding the WBO, WBA, WBC, IBF and the Ring Magazine titles simultaneously.
Without a doubt, Usyk is one of the best talents in boxing today and brings a variety of skills, styles and techniques that really cluster the meat of his talent.
He is praised by boxing writers, historians and hardcore boxing fans.
He currently boasts a record of 16 wins with 12 KOs.
His last fight was against Briton Tony Bellew in November 2018 whom he knocked out in round eight in front 20,000 fans at the Manchester arena.
Usyk does not deny the challenge and wants to aim high in order to achieve greatness in the heavyweight division.
“It’s a tough first fight,” said Usyk.
“But I need to test myself against world-class opposition on my new road to undisputed.”
His opponent Takam (36-5-1) has competitive opponents in the past such as Tony Thompson, Joseph Parker, Dereck Chisora and hard-hitting, Anthony Joshua.
Takam took Joshua to ten rounds with good shots thrown at him but lost in the end.
However, in regards to Usyk facing him in May, Takam feels highly motivated for the opportunity.
“I can promise that this will be a great fight and I will provide Usyk with a huge test on his heavyweight debut,” he said.
“I have huge ambitions of my own in the division and this fight will provide me with the chance to prove that.”
But can Usyk, a former Olympic champion and former undisputed champion succeed in a division that is known more for power and will than skill and mindset?
One must keep in mind that Usyk had actually fought in the heavyweight division previously as an amateur.
In 2013, Usyk defeated future Olympic Silver medallist Joe Joyce in a five-round battle without the use of handguards at the World Series of Boxing event.
He used his straight left hand to win points and provided exchanges too. As a cruiserweight, Usyk is known for his high activity level and astonishing footwork.
There was little activity rate in the bout with Joyce and more pot-shots were executed.
Many question if Usyk’s footwork will drastically change in 200 plus division and will the speed remain against the bigger fighters.
Fighters such as Evander Holyfield and David Haye both unified the cruiserweight division. Haye won the WBA heavyweight title and defended it twice. Holyfield went on to also unify the heavyweight division.
Roy Jones Jr, one of boxing’s greatest fighters of all time went from winning titles at middleweight, light heavyweight and at heavyweight.
He became the first fighter in 106 years to go from winning a title at middleweight all to the way to heavyweight.
By the numbers, Usyk throws an astounding 41 jabs per round which is double what the average heavyweight (20) throws.
Usyk has landed 19% of his total punches to the body.
In the power punching department, Usyk throws around 28 punches and connects at a rate of 42%. While the average heavyweight throws around 24 and connects at 40%.
Usyk opponents landed 29% of their power punches which is well below the cruiserweight avg (37%).
Takam relies on the power punch. 10 of his 13 landed punches are power shots. His opponents have landed 38% of their power shots.
The numbers indicate that Usyk does lead slightly ahead than what the average heavyweight throws and lands. However, this will all depend on next how well he does against the heavyweights. The activity level could in question. Sometimes when it comes moving up in weight, the activity level can go down. Fighters like Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury weigh a median of 17st 2lbs and a median height of 6 foot 7 whilst Usyk only comes in around 14 stone at 6 foot 3 inches. Even if Usyk comes in a stone up it will be a challenging and a hazardous process to take. Nobody can deny the talent that Usyk brings to the table and no doubt he has made the decision in fighting Takam in order to get a taste of the heavyweight division once again but on a professional level.
Usyk Set to Make Heavyweight Debut Against Takam
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.
Oleksandr Usyk to Face Luiz Ortiz or Alexander Povetkin?
By: Waqas Ali
Oleksandr Usyk could be on the verge of stepping into the heavyweight division and facing either Cuban beast Luiz Ortiz or Russian Alexander Povetkin.
Usyk boasts a record of 16 victories and is the undisputed cruiserweight champion – holding the WBO, WBA, WBC, IBF and the Ring Magazine titles simultaneously.
Without a doubt Usyk is one of the best talent in boxing today and brings a variety of skills, styles and techniques that really cluster the meat of his talent.
According to Michael Benson via Fight News, Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk stated that there is a “70% chance” of making a matchup against Povetkin or Ortiz.
Krassyuk also said that fighters such as Jarrell Miller and Joseph Parker turned down the option of fighting Usyk.
However, according to Parkers’ promoter David Higgns, he denied any rejection of Usyk and that they did not receive any communication from the Usyk camp.
Interesting to note the fact that when Dillian Whyte was asked about future opponents he would like to face, he did not mention Usyk.
“There’s five possible fighters [Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Jarrell Miller, Dominic Breazeale and Deontay Wilder] out there for me,” Whyte said to IFL TV.
When asked about Usyk specifically, he dismissed him as a potential opponent.
“He’s a good fighter, but no one knows who he is,” Whyte said.
“He speaks no English. What I’m saying is he’s not really a big fight for me. The hardcore boxing fans will watch it [Whyte vs. Usyk], but imagine trying to sell Usyk-Dillian Whyte to the general public.”
One theory of this dismissal could be the fact that Whyte (25W, 18KOs -1L) is looking for the rematch against Anthony Joshua who is the unified heavyweight champion.
But in particular Ortiz and Povetkin are the main head-to-heads for Usyk, should his camp announce his debut at heavyweight and pick one of them.
But what does each fighter bring to the table?
Povetkin, 39, has a record of 34 wins (24 KOs) and two losses. In his last ten bouts, he won eight and six of them were by stoppages. His height is at 6 foot 2 inches and a reach of 75 inches.
Though Usyk would gain advantage since his height is 6 foot 3 with a 78 inch reach.
Povetkin is a conventional fighter and does have effective that could the smaller Usyk problems. Both are Olympic Gold medal winners from their countries of Russia and Ukraine. It would sell well in either countries or even in the United States.
Ortiz, 39, also boasts a record of 30 wins, 26 by KO, one loss and two no contests. His knockout ratio stands at 79%.
In his last ten bouts, he’s won nine, eight by KO and only one decision. His reach is similar to Usyks of 78”. This would mean that the range and distance could be of an interesting contest.
He has exceptional punching power and the ratio figure speaks for itself. Lacks the footwork but can break the range every now and when it comes throwing the overhand right hes follows it up with the right.
The Cuban is also a southpaw and majority of Usyks opponents are orthodox. This would put Ortiz in the lead due to the fact that Usyk has not fought any competitive southpaws.
According to a poll conducted by @boxingroyalty1, out of over 1600 plus voters 50% picked Povetkin to fight Usyk and 38% chose Ortiz.
— Boxing Royalty (@boxingroyalty1) January 6, 2019
One thing about Usyk is his punches are sweet but sour to taste.
Based on the styles and variations of each fighter I would say that on a selling point it would be with Povetkin because a Russian and a Ukrainian could gather a mega crowd in their home lands. They would make more money than opposed to having Ortiz travelling to foreign lands to sell. It’s an unfortunate reality but I suspect that even Ortiz will acknowledge this. Boxing today is more to do with stage than skills. Like quality over quantity.
From a stylistic point of view, I believe Ortiz is the stronger and powerful one of the two. Just as I mentioned in the analysis, his knockout ration is high and he has more weapons to fire than Povetkin has. For someone who comes in at 240 plus on fight night could be a problem for Usyk. We saw what happened in the Bellew fight. He was countered multiple times. The comprehension of taking those punches at heavyweight against someone like Ortiz would be devastating.
With regards to Whyte turning down Usyk, as I mentioned in the analysis, Whyte in his mind shouldn’t fight Usyk because he realises that he has more chance of losing to him and therefore it will cost him his chance of rematching with Joshua again. Of course from a hardcore boxing fans’ point view it is preposterous to even deny him a fight. The fact that Usyk can’t speak English is irrelevant. Saul Alvarez can’t speak English yet he’s the most paid boxer and the biggest name in boxing today. Whyte said that the bout wouldn’t sell. No doubt it probably make as much money as it would a second fight with AJ but at least fight could elevate Whyte back in the main elites. Usyk fought Bellew at the Manchester Arena. A venue with a capacity of over 20,000 and the viewership for that was over 600,000. Whatever the case maybe, I recognise the reasoning’s for Whyte’s reasoning on declining Usyk.
2018 Fighter of the Year: Oleksandr Usyk
By: Jake Donovan
For the past 30 years, there has been no debate that Evander Holyfield is the greatest cruiserweight of all time.
That was until Oleksandr Usyk wrapped up his 2018 in-ring campaign.
The 31-year old southpaw from Ukraine hasn’t enjoyed the benefit of fighting at home since his final fight as a contender in Dec. ‘15. Each of his last eight starts have taken place on the road, all but one being staged in the home country of his opponent beginning with his title-lifting effort over then-unbeaten champ Krzysztof Glowacki in Sept. ’16 in Poland.
Fighting on the road is hardly a new experience for the gifted cruiserweight, who spent a healthy portion of his 350-fight amateur career away from his native Ukraine. Included among the lot were two Olympic tours, advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and capturing a Gold medal during the 2012 London festivities.
It’s only fitting that every championship he’s won as a pro has come against the backdrop of a partisan crowd.
In 2018, Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) entered the lion’s den three times—twice in unification bouts and wrapping up the year with a defense versus a former champ, all taking place in sold-out arenas in packed with his opponent’s fans rooting hard for a hometown win.
His journey began with a trip to Riga, Latvia last January to face then-unbeaten titlist and local hero Mairis Briedis. It was already his third time facing an undefeated opponent in their home country, as he was the first to beat Glowacki (in Poland) and American contender Michael Hunter in the United States.
In Briedis, Usyk would receive his stiffest test as a pro, certainly a far more difficult challenge than having stopped former titlist Marco Huck in Germany the prior September in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.
The first five rounds were anything but a clear-cut indicator that Usyk would even win, much less go on to enjoy a Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign. He first had to adapt to the brisk pace forced by the house favorite, then contend with a clash of heads in the 5th round which left him briefly wobbled and with reddening around his left eye.
It ultimately served as a wake-up call.
Usyk took over the fight once the second half began, his second-to-none conditioning carrying him to victory. Save for a minor scare in round nine and a final round last-ditch rally by Briedis, the second half surge was enough for the visiting Ukrainian to advance to the WBSS finals.
That led to his twice traveling to Russia: first to take in the other semifinals bout between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos one week later; then in July, for his finals meet with Gassiev in a bout that would leave the winner as the first truly undisputed cruiserweight champion in the four-belt era.
As it turned out, the hardest part in making history was getting to fight night. The unification clash itself was delayed by more than two months due to Usyk requiring elbow surgery, thus killing plans for a May clash in Saudi Arabia. The postponement worked out in Gassiev’s favor, in that the fight was relocated to his native Russia.
Home country advantage was the only edge he’d enjoy that night.
Usyk quickly took the crowd out of the equation, somehow reducing an undisputed cruiserweight championship contest into a one-sided sparring session in pitching a virtual shutout. Even before the final decision was announced, the immediate question was what the newly crowned World cruiserweight king would do for an encore.
The answer? A third road trip on the year, of course.
For months, the idea was floated of Tony Bellew challenging the WBSS winner—particularly if it was Usyk, who even entered a co-promotional pact with the Brit’s promoter Eddie Hearn. The union led to the finalization of plans for a November 11 clash in what would be a sold-out Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Even if Usyk opted to sit out the rest of 2018 following his win over Gassiev, he’d still serve as a leading Fighter of the Year contender. For much of the first half of his clash with Bellew, the risk of a third fight in an optional defense seemed to outweigh the reward.
That was, until the defending champ was ready to take over.
Once again displaying his superior ring smarts and conditioning, Usyk overcame a rocky start—and surprising scorecard deficit—to emphatically knock out Bellew in round eight. A textbook left hand landed flush, putting the former cruiserweight titlist down and out, a knockout loser in what would be the final fight of his celebrated career.
As for Usyk, it was merely the final moment of an unrivaled 2018 in-ring campaign. He entered the year at least a distant second in discussions of the best active cruiserweight of all time (Holyfield) and the best active boxer from Ukraine (Vasiliy Lomachenko).
Answers that were once foregone conclusions now warrant considerable discussion. Everything about the year that was for Usyk changed that mindset—while fittingly also ending any debate as to whether anyone else deserved the honor of being named the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Fighter of the Year.