Whyte says Oleksander Usyk will struggle at heavyweight
By Mike Smith: #1 WBC contender Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte sees Olekander Usyk having problems against the bigger heavyweight when he moves in weight to fight the bigger guys like himself and Anthony Joshua.
Whyte says he’ll use his size to walk Usyk down and rough him up. This is what Whyte did in his fight against former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker last July. With the referee allowing Whyte to get away with roughouse tactics, which frequently involved fouling, he was able to beat Parker. However, a better referee might not be agreeable to letting Whyte go outside the Marquess of Queensberry rules to beat the arguably more talented Usyk.
Whyte (24-1, 17 KOs) watched Usyk’s fight against Tony Bellew (30-3-1, 20 KOs) last Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, and he spotted plenty of weakness that he believes he and Joshua can exploit. Whether they actually can take advantage of Usyk’s lack of size is something that the boxing world is going to find out soon. Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchoom Boxing is very likely going to match him against Usyk soon before he puts the Ukrainian in with Joshua. In other words, Usyk is likely going to need to prove himself against Whyte and other top heavyweights before he makes the Joshua fight.
“I can never see him shock a real heavyweight, maybe his movement to some lazy heavyweight, but as a heavyweight you close it down, nullify it, and beat him up, rough him up,” Whyte said to skysports.com.
Whyte might be correct about Usyk’s lack of size keeping him from being successful at heavyweight. The fighters in the past that made the move from cruiserweight to heavyweight and found success were guys with good punching power. Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer are two notable fighters that moved from cruiserweight to heavyweight and did well. The difference between them and Usyk is they were both huge punchers. Usyk isn’t a big puncher at cruiserweight. He’s more of a finesse type of cruiserweight. So in moving up to heavyweight, Usyk is going to need to rely on his boxing skills to try and win decisions against the giant heavyweights like Anthony Joshua, Whyte and Deontay Wilder. It’s not going to be easy for Usyk to go 12 rounds against those type of fighters. It’s safe to say that Usyk will sustain a lot of damage fighting those guys.
If Usyk’s punching power improves once he moves up to heavyweight, then he’ll have a chance of beating Joshua, Whyte and the other top guys in the division. But for now, it’s not likely that Usyk will be able to hold his own against the super heavyweights with monstrous size in the weight class.
Usyk’s boxing skills and leaner physique would enable him to create a lot of angles for punching against a bigger, slower heavyweight champion Whyte. Joshua would be a tougher task for Usyk, because he can move better than Whyte.
Whyte (24-1,17 KOs) is on the slow side, and he moves sluggishly around the ring. It’s hard to picture Whyte being able to cut off the ring and oppose his size on a more mobile heavyweight like Usyk. In Whyte’s last fight against Parker, he weighed in at 258 lbs, and he didn’t look quick on his feet. If a lighter fighter like Bellew couldn’t get close enough to Usyk to land his body shots, then it’s probably not too realistic that Whyte, 30, will be able to cut off the ring on Usyk. That’s totally unrealistic. It’s safe to say that the only way that Whyte is able to use his size to beat Usyk is if the Ukrainian fighter is willing to stand and fight him in a stationary manner, which he probably won’t be willing to do.
“Heavyweights are bigger and stronger guys and they will manhandle him,” Whyte said. “If I fought him I wouldn’t do what Tony Bellew was doing, I’d be charging at him all around the ring”
It’s too bad that Whyte has a fight scheduled next month against Dereck Chisora (29-8, 21 KOs) on December 22 at the O2 Arena in London, England. If not for that fight, it would be nice to see if Whyte can back up his tough talking by facing Usyk. It’s not likely that Hearn would bless a Whyte-Usyk fight right now, since he plans on using Whyte as Joshua’s opponent for April 13 next year. Hearn is going to need to do something with Whyte if he loses to Joshua for a second time. He can’t just keep putting them in with each other if Whyte is knocked out once again. The boxing world wants Joshua to face new blood.
What many boxing fans don’t know is Usyk beat former Joshua conqueror the 6’5″ Mihai Nistor in the amateur ranks in 2013. Nistor stopped Joshua in the European Championships in 2013. The southpaw Nistor has the punching power and the size to defeat Whyte if he had turned pro. Even now, Nistor would potentially beat Whyte if he turned pro, due to his punching power and size. Whyte isn’t a big puncher. At one time, Whyte was known for having a powerful left hook. However, since his shoulder injury in 2015, Whyte is no longer a big puncher with his left hand. Whyte’s right hand punching power is minimal. He mostly slaps with his right, and he still uses his left for his power punching.
If Hearn insists that Usyk fight Whyte, Dave Allen, Dereck Chisora and Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller before he faces Joshua, he could clean out his entire Matchroom Boxing stable in the next two years, leaving him with a lot of damaged heavyweights that are no longer popular and useful to him. It would be a risk for Hearn to use his own fighters in his Matchroom stable for Usyk to fight. It might be better for Hearn to reach out to other promoters to see if their heavyweights want to face Usyk. At least by doing that, Hearn will still have his own heavyweights in his Matchroom stable remain popular to some extent. Three years ago, no one would have predicted that Hearn would be able to turn Whyte into a pay-per-view attraction in the UK on Sky Box Office.