Oleksandr Usyk within punching distance of boxing immortality

The Ukrainian owns three of the four heavyweight belts. If Tyson Fury can be persuaded into the ring for a fight to unify the four titles, Usyk will have the opportunity to achieve a rare distinction: become an ‘undisputed’ champion in two weight classes

The Ukrainian owns three of the four heavyweight belts. If Tyson Fury can be persuaded into the ring for a fight to unify the four titles, Usyk will have the opportunity to achieve a rare distinction: become an ‘undisputed’ champion in two weight classes

Oleksandr Usyk is a step away from everlasting boxing greatness. 

The Ukrainian pugilist successfully defended his World heavyweight titles with a split-decision win over Anthony Joshua in a rematch, dubbed ‘Rage on the Red Sea’, last month. He thus retained possession of his WBA, WBO and IBF belts, remaining the unified champion. 

There’s only one heavyweight title that Usyk doesn’t own — the WBC belt, which Tyson Fury kept after knocking out Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium in April.

Victory over the 6’9” Fury would unite all four heavyweight titles, making Usyk the undisputed champion. What’s more, the 35-year-old ring-master will have the incredibly rare honour of achieving ‘undisputed’ status in two weight classes, having already been the undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up to the heavyweight division.

Add his outstanding amateur credentials — he is an Olympic, World and European champion! — and you realise that Usyk is one of the most decorated boxers in the sport’s rich history. 

‘Pound for pound’ No. 1?

It isn’t merely the incredible success; it’s also the extreme circumstances in which he has risen. 

Six months ago, he was patrolling the streets of Kyiv with an automatic rifle and defending Ukraine from the invading Russians. Indeed, it wasn’t until he was asked to fight Joshua by Ukrainian soldiers he was visiting in a medical facility that Usyk decided he would box again.

After a gruelling training camp, he was handling a different type of pressure inside the ring at King Abdullah Sport City arena in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — that of living up to his billing as the sporting pride of Ukraine, carrying the hopes of a country fighting for its existence.

The 6’3” boxer succeeded with a stirring show of heart and resilience, weathering a barrage from the heavy-hitting Joshua in round nine before turning the tables with three rounds for the ages.

“This is already history,” Usyk said after the fight, which took his professional record to 20 matches undefeated. “Many generations are going to watch this fight, especially the round when someone tried to beat me hard. But I stood up to it and turned it in a different way.”

Rival camp in awe

Even Joshua’s camp acknowledged Usyk’s superiority in every facet of the fight-game. 

“In the ninth round I thought we had him,” said Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “The 10th round was one of the best rounds I’ve seen. What Usyk did in the 10th, the 11th and the 12th was incredible, he was hurt badly in the ninth but came out like a train.”

Joshua’s trainer Robert Garcia, who gave the British boxer a new game-plan of attacking Usyk’s body and keeping the pressure on, admitted that the Ukrainian was a true champion. 

“Anthony is a hard puncher, and one shot can change a fight. That is what we were hoping for, one shot,” Garcia told Izquierdazo. “But Usyk is a great fighter, with a tremendous heart, who knows how to finish strong, like champions do. Usyk was mentally stronger, to the point that after being close to a knockout, instead of giving up, he came back stronger. His will and his desire to demonstrate to his country that he couldn’t let himself lose the fight, made him come back.”

Usyk called Fury out immediately after the match. “I am convinced he wants to fight me. I want to fight him. And if I’m not fighting Tyson Fury, I’m not fighting at all,” Usyk told the crowd through a ringside interpreter. Fury has declared himself retired, but said in a post on social media that he would “smash him [Usyk] in four rounds.”

Fury has continued to send out mixed signals, full of bombast one day and saying he was walking away from the sport, because he had given his wife his word, the next. 

Experts think it’s merely a ploy to drive up his price and at least one recent Fury comment did that explicitly: “England has been relieved of its belts, yet again, as usual, but there is a remedy and a solution that I can suggest. If you want those belts back, then send in the Gypsy barbarian of England. Come on. Send me in. But it’s not going to be cheap. It’s going to be very expensive.”

Legacy play

The prospect of the fight should appeal to Fury. It isn’t legacy-defining just for Usyk; it offers Fury, too, a chance to put his name among the best. While he doesn’t have Usyk’s amateur resume, he has had a glittering professional career. If he can become the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis (1999-2000) and retire undefeated, he will be considered an all-time great.

Fury’s promoter Frank Warren talked up the attractions of a potential bout. “He and Usyk would be a really good fight,” Warren told the BBC. “It’s a fight that I think will be made because both teams would like to see that happen. It’s just a matter of where it will generate the most income because it’s a unique fight, a historic fight. It’s the first time in god knows how long that the four belts are on the line. Both are undefeated. The whole world of boxing will be captivated.”

A recent ESPN report said the heavyweight reunification fight could take place in February 2023, but there’s still uncertainty over when it will happen — that is, if it does happen at all.

What is certain, however, is that Warren is right about the fight’s appeal — not only is it historically significant, it has several selling points, including the in-ring action.

How they match up

It has the classic ‘big man, smaller man’ narrative, given the six-inch and potential 20-kg advantage the giant Fury will enjoy. But Fury, interestingly, has looked more comfortable against similar-sized bruisers in the ring and less at ease when dealing with smaller fighters.

Both Usyk and Fury are high-IQ boxers, so the chess-match of strategy and tactics will add another layer to the contest. 

Usyk is a sublime technical boxer, with such fluid footwork that he controls ring position against every opponent. He is a clinical puncher, using the pawing jab to constantly pressure his rivals and set them up. His agility allows him to evade punishment and quickly counterpunch when the opportunity presents itself. No wonder he’s called ‘The Cat’. His is a slick, complete style with no weaknesses. He also boxes southpaw, which can trouble some opponents.

Fury, despite his size, is not a plodding, one-tone fighter. He is unpredictable, with that rare ability to adapt his style to the opponent. He can crowd his rival or fight from range. While his footwork isn’t as smooth and sharp as Usyk’s, it’s still exceptional for a man that big, allowing him to create angles to punch. He has a strong defence and an even stronger chin. He is also a master of disrupting the opponent’s rhythm with jabs, feints and movement. 

“It’s a fight with contrasting styles and very different propositions,” former heavyweight and cruiserweight champion David Haye told iFL TV. “How does Fury do against smaller good guys? Look at Steve Cunningham. He was a cruiserweight champion and he had success against Fury, but Fury then used his size and just mauled him and ground him to a pulp.

“Is Usyk made of tougher stuff? I think so, I think it’s going to be a great fight and I’m really looking forward to it. Finally we’re going to get one undisputed champion with no question marks. You’ve got two guys now who are undisputedly number one and two, however you tally it up. There can be only one, like in highlander, and we’ll find out who number one is.”

It’s too big a fight not to happen. The boxing world will hope Fury can be persuaded into the ring.

For all the latest Sports News Click Here 

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Technocharger is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Comments are closed.