Oleksandr Usyk: Contender or Pretender?

There are not many boxers that have unified belts in an entire division, with boxing politics and some champions avoiding other top fighters, it is very hard to unify an entire division these days. So this is what makes Oleksandr Usyk so special, not only did he unify the cruiserweight division in only two years, he wiped out every top fighter within the division.

Fast forward to 2019, after his domination of the division, Usyk knew it was time for a change. He needed to move up, with virtually nothing left to prove at cruiserweight and much bigger money fights at heavyweight, the move was inevitable. The issue with cruiserweight is that it is not the flashiest division. Sandwiched between the heavyweight and light heavyweight division, it tends to get ignored. It usually has some great fighters, but the division has never been a big draw.

The credentials of the Ukranian can not be overlooked, a gold medal at the 2012 games (at heavyweight) and a 335-15 amateur record is impressive. Despite not turning pro until the age of 26, Usyk was clearly already primed for stardom. He won his first world title in only 10 bouts and unified the division at only 15. So now as we look at what is in store for Usyk, the future seems to be bright for him and scary for the world.

Usyk indeed has only fought once at heavyweight, despite a not so thrilling KO victory over journeyman Chazz Witherspoon, it was his first fight in the new division and was never troubled once by his opponent. With a May date against heavyweight contender Derek Chisora, we might just see what Usyk can truly do in the division.

The big names have been thrown around, he is already a mandatory for Anthony Joshua who is a fellow stable mate at Matchroom Boxing, so despite that being an easy fight to make would Joshua really take on the risk? Usyk has already gone on to say he is ready to fight the top guys in the division, be it Joshua or newly crowned WBC champion Tyson Fury.

Another thing to worry or consider is how much is left in the tank for Usyk, having just turned 33, it is true he does not have the wear and tear professionally as many his age with only 17 professional bouts, but with an amateur career that spanned for years he is no spring chicken. Although not many have seen the kind of skills like Usyk has at this division.

Oleksandr is in every sense a “boxer”, he has a slick jab and great reach on his punches, he can keep almost everyone at a distance and is a combination of athleticism and power that is not seen at the heavier divisions. Totally different weight classes, but he reminds many of his fellow countryman, lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko in the way that both fighters possess athleticism as well as incredible power and technical ability.

By Alex Perl of SimBoxx

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