Can Oleksandr Usyk Take Over the Heavyweight Division?
By Jack Price
Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder & Tyson Fury…. they are the three names in everyone’s mouths right now when talking about the heavyweight division and who is the No.1 big man on the planet. All three are unbeaten and all three thoroughly believe they will eventually beat the other two and become the true undisputed heavyweight king.
But there’s a man from Ukraine named Oleksandr Usyk that may have something to say about that. The Ukrainian has set his sights on the heavyweight division and it’s time for everyone to take notice if they haven’t done so yet.
Anyone who’s seen Usyk fight knows just how good the man is in the ring and believes like himself that the top heavyweights should be very worried now he’s decided to make the move up to the big-hitting division. If you haven’t heard of Usyk or seen him fight yet then get on YouTube and take notice now because he’s about to become a real player on the heavyweight scene. He’s already conquered the cruiserweight division, winning all four world titles and becoming the undisputed champion and a serious pound-for-pound contender after just 16 fights as a professional. And the craziest thing about it is, not only did he win all four belts but he also travelled to his opponents hometown and beat them in front of their own fans each time.
Pound-for-pound he’s already way above Joshua, Wilder and Fury in the rankings and in terms of technical ability he’s light years ahead of Wilder, trumps Joshua and probably just about edges Fury too, but the main question mark is his size and power. All three of these men will tower over him when they do meet in the ring and although he’s knocked out 12 of his 16 opponents, he’s not really got that big one-punch power.
Another question mark is whether he can bring his incredible footwork, movement and reactions up to heavyweight considering the weight and muscle he is going to have to put on.
If he can be the same fighter at heavyweight that he is at cruiserweight then the big men should be worried even if he is a fair bit smaller than them. You can’t knock him out if you can’t hit him and he’s got the ability to box and move and counter you all night. And if he can build up enough power to at least trouble his opponents and give them something to think about then he’s going to be a real problem.
But it is going to take time….. He’s not just going to be able to jump straight in and start smashing up the biggest heavyweights in his first couple of fights. He needs to take his time to get used to the division and break himself in against the smaller heavyweights first.
His first fight at the weight comes soon when he takes on experienced contender Carlos Takam in America. The fight was scheduled for May 25th but has now been postponed due to Usyk suffering a bicep injury, but hopefully not for too long.
Takam is an inch shorter than Usyk at 6”2 but he’s strong, powerful and tough and will definitely make Usyk work for the win. It’s a chance for Usyk to showcase his skills and also prove that he’s got a bit of power if he can get Takam out of there early. It took Joshua 10 rounds to stop Takam and even that was a bit of a questionable stoppage.
If Usyk comes through this like he’s expected to then he should start looking at guys that are in the top 10 and slightly bigger in size. The likes of Kubrat Pulev, Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker would be great tests for him and if he can get an impressive win over anyone like that then you’ve got to say he’s ready for the main three.
If you’re Joshua, Wilder and Fury and you’ve got him in your sights then you want to be getting Usyk as early as possible while he’s still inexperienced at the weight. There’s rumours that he’s a target for AJ at the end of the year and Fury’s mentioned fighting him a few times but I haven’t heard anything from Wilder about the fight, probably because Usyk’s style would be all wrong for him.
So asking the question; Will Oleksandr Usyk become the No.1 heavyweight in the world? I would have to say I’m still unsure. He’s got more than enough ability and skill to beat every single guy at heavyweight, but can he handle the size and power of the big men? That is something we won’t know the answer to until he actually steps in the ring with one of them. But one thing I do know is that he is definitely going to be a great addition to the heavyweight division.