Boxer of the Year: Olexsandr Usyk

Boxer of the Year: Olexsandr Usyk

By Michael Richards 

In what has been a vintage year in the world of boxing, there have been a few standouts who should rightly be recognised as the top performing boxer of the calendar year.

Tyson Fury captured the hearts and the imagination of the boxing public, making his return to the ring after a sabbatical of almost three years, to impressively dazzle Deontay Wilder and came within minutes of claiming the WBC heavyweight title.

Vasyl Lomachenko stepped up to lightweight and unified the division with victories over Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza, cementing his place at the top of the pound 4 pound rankings.

A couple of other notable mentions should also go to Josh Warrington, who proved he is one of the world’s top featherweights and Anthony Joshua, who added the WBO belt to his collection, as well as stopping Alexander Povetkin in clinical fashion.

As much as I wanted to look at the year from a different angle, it would be remiss of me to overlook the achievements of one boxer, who has cleaned up his own division in devastating fashion. Olexsandr Usyk has taken on all comers and done so in their own backyards.

The Ukrainian out boxed Mairis Briedis in Riga and clinically took apart the big punching Murat Gassiev in Moscow, to be crowned the inaugural World Boxing Super Series champion and in turn collect all four world titles at cruiserweight. Always the favourite in the tournament, Usyk had to execute under pressure, which he did each time.

After dismantling the best the cruiserweight division had to offer, Usyk could have been forgiven for moving straight up to heavyweight. Not satisfied with his achievements, he then steps into the ring with Tony Bellew and once again in enemy territory.

Sitting ringside that night gave me a true appreciation of how good Usyk is. He allowed Bellew to dictate in the first couple of rounds, before working him out and systematically dismantling him with a 8th round knockout. Power, precision and beautiful boxing ability on show.

The man is a phenomenon and deserving of every accolade he receives.

Usyk has proven to the boxing world the boxing world in 2018, how good he really is. Usyk has only had only sixteen fights as a professional, I fear for those who come up against him over the next couple of years. So good with still so much to learn. 2019 could very well be Usyk’s year. What a frightening prospect that is for all prospective heavyweight opponents.

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