By Jim Dower: Unbeaten #1 WBO cruiserweight contender Oleksandr Usyk, (9-0-0, 9KO’s) kept his perfect knockout streak intact with an impressive 7th round knockout victory last Saturday night over the hard hitting #14 WBA Pedro Rodriguez (22-2, 19 KOs) at the Sport Palace, in Kiev, Ukraine.
Usyk, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist for Ukraine, knocked the 29-year-old Cuban Rodriguez down in the 6th and 7th rounds. The fight was stopped after the knockdown in the 7th despite Rodriguez making it to his feet.
Referee Yuri Koptsev stopped the fight at 1:57 of the round. It was a good stoppage because Rodriguez was hurt and not going to be able to make it out of the round given all the time that was left.
Like in most of his fights, Usyk started slowly in focusing on landing single shots with moderate power on them. But by the 3rd round, Usyk began to load up on his punches more and more, and he began to start getting Rodriguez’s attention with his shots. Rodriguez put a lot of effort into each of his power shots, as you could hear him screech when he loaded up with his punches. But his power had no effect on Usyk, who took the shots and continued to fire back with his own.
Rodriguez started to started to look weary by the 6th round, as he had been softened up with a lot of head and body shots by that point in the fight. Late in the round, Usyk landed a big uppercut that dropped Rodriguez on the canvas. He was able to get back up and make it out of the round. Rodriguez lucky that the knockdown came late because he wouldn’t have been able to survive the round, given how hurt he was. Rodriguez looked like he couldn’t take another shot without getting seriously hurt.
At the start of the 7th, Usyk attacked Rodriguez with combinations and knocked him to the canvas with a flurry of shots. Rodriguez barely beat the count, but the fight was stopped anyway due to him being too hurt to continue.
With this victory, Usyk retains his WBO Inter-Continental Cruiserweight title. He’s ranked highly at No.1 by the WBO, and he should be getting a title shot against WBO champion Krzystof Glowaki in 2016. That’ll be a good fight, because Glowaki is a good puncher, and he recently defeated long time champion Marco Huck by an 11th round knockout last August in an exciting fight.
Glowaki was knocked down in the 6th round of that fight and appeared to be on his way to losing when he hurt Huck in the 11th round and was able to knock him down twice to get a stoppage. Like Glowaki, Usyk is a southpaw with excellent punching power. It’ll be a really tough fight and a difficult to call right off hand. Usyk looks very hard to beat right now, but Glowaki was very impressive in the Huck fight. Usyk will need to bring his A-game for him to win.
“I’m very happy with Oleksandr’s performance, he continues to improve with each fight,” said Alexander Krassyuk of K2 Promotions Ukraine. “We believe he’s the best cruiserweight in the world and we look forward to him continuing to prove that with each fight. We are looking to challenge for the cruiserweight world title within the next several months.”
If Usyk can get past Glowaki, it’ll open up a lot of other interesting fights against some of the other top fighters in the division. Ideally, it would be great if Usyk could unify the titles against champions Victor Ramirez, Grigory Drozd and Denis Lebedev. That might prove to be nearly impossible to do though, because those champions have a good thing going right now and they might not want to risk their titles against a tough guy like Usyk.
Usyk has the kind of size and punching power that could transfer over to the heavyweight division if he wants move up in weight one of these days. Even if he doesn’t want to fight at heavyweight permanently, he could potentially make good money if he moved up in weight for fights every now and then. It would be exciting to see how he matches up with some of the top heavyweights in the division.