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Who Should Oleksandr Usyk Fight Next?

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  • Who Should Oleksandr Usyk Fight Next?

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    By Ted Sares

    Ukrainian sensation Oleksandr Usyk has done everything possible to dominate the cruiserweight division and unite the four title belts. In so doing, he was everyone’s 2018 Fighter of the Year. Even his opponents sing his praises as Tony Bellew called him “the greatest man I have ever shared a ring with.”

    So now the time has come to move up to heavyweight to see if Usyk can transfer his skills to the top division. As an amateur, he won gold medals at the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics in the 201-pound weight class.

    At 6’3’’, Usyk (16-0) has the height but at 200 pounds he will be giving away a lot of poundage to possible opponents like Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, and Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller—not to mention the height and weight of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury. (Deontay Wilder has the height but not the weight or skills and could offer an intriguing financial opportunity down the line.)

    "I would like to see him fight AJ. He can work for 12 rounds. He would give Anthony serious problems. I think he can do the same thing [deliver a performance like the one against Gassiev] even against Wilder."-Naseem Hamed on ITV Box Office

    Based on a tweet picked up by Michael Benson, the Boxing Editor of a popular British online magazine, Usyk’s K2 promotor Alex Krassyuk stated there is a 70 percent chance Usyk’s next fight will be a heavyweight debut against either Alexander Povetkin or Luis Ortiz. Furthermore, Krassyuk claims that Jarrell Miller and Joseph Parker already have turned down the fight (an allegation strongly denied by the Parker camp). Miller is understandable given his other possibilities to make serious money, but Parker’s rejection is a bit disappointing, if true.

    Other, albeit more remote possibilities are Joe Joyce, Andy Ruiz, Kubrat Pulev, Lucas Browne, Bryant Jennings, Filip Hrgovic, Manuel Charr, useful Carlos Takam, a possibly shot Dereck Chisora, and even gigantic but ponderous Alexander Ustinov (though this one might have side-show qualities that probably should be avoided).

    Ortiz seems very risky at this point. Povetkin, given his less-than compelling performances of late, makes more sense. However, neither can be seen as easy entrance into the heavyweight division. If it is Povetkin, he—the fast-starting 39-year-old Russian—must get the job done early or suffer a troubled evening against a southpaw opponent who uses angles and slides in-and-out of range and then comes back quickly with heavy counters. But as the Bellew fight showed, Usyk can be caught flush and if he is against the bigger men, the results could be concussive.

    The thinking here is that he should debut as a heavyweight with a sure win and then move up in caliber -- and that means the winner of the January 18 fight between Bryant Jennings (24-2) and Oscar Rivas (25-0) more than it does Alexander Povetkin or Luis Ortiz.

    What do you think?

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    This is going to be interesting to see how Usyk moves into the heavyweight division. I think he wants to face the best right away. But his management team will probably want to ease him into a fight first before jumping in with the bigger fish.

    I have mentioned Trevor Bryan before as a possibility for Usyk's first fight and I still think that is very possible. Bryan was rumored to be fighting Jarrell Miller next week in New York on DAZN but as of now there has been no official confirmation. If Bryan does not fight Miller next week, I think he is the guy Usyk's team targets.

    Another possibility will be David Price. Again, Usyk's management team wants to ease him into the division I believe with his first fight.

    Then I think we see Usyk face Luis Ortiz later this year. Ortiz needs and wants a big fight. But with Fury-Wilder probably together and Joshua's team showing little to no interest in facing Ortiz, this could be the next best option for Ortiz. Usyk has shown a willingness to fight anyone and I think would be eager to face Ortiz in a substantial heavyweight fight.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by oubobcat View Post
      This is going to be interesting to see how Usyk moves into the heavyweight division. I think he wants to face the best right away. But his management team will probably want to ease him into a fight first before jumping in with the bigger fish.

      I have mentioned Trevor Bryan before as a possibility for Usyk's first fight and I still think that is very possible. Bryan was rumored to be fighting Jarrell Miller next week in New York on DAZN but as of now there has been no official confirmation. If Bryan does not fight Miller next week, I think he is the guy Usyk's team targets.

      Another possibility will be David Price. Again, Usyk's management team wants to ease him into the division I believe with his first fight.

      Then I think we see Usyk face Luis Ortiz later this year. Ortiz needs and wants a big fight. But with Fury-Wilder probably together and Joshua's team showing little to no interest in facing Ortiz, this could be the next best option for Ortiz. Usyk has shown a willingness to fight anyone and I think would be eager to face Ortiz in a substantial heavyweight fight.
      Good points except David Price would be a crime against nature. Price needs to fight at the mid-tier level or he is going to get badly damaged. Bryan makes sense. Conversely, Usyk might want big paydays as sson as he can get them and that means fighting someone big and risky. It will be interesting to see how this plays out

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      • #4
        Not Price, pleeeese. Usyk would get zero credit for knocking him out; in fact he would be laughed at for taking such a set opponent . And Price needs to find another line of work; he has been BRUTALLY ko'd too many times.

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