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Hearn wants Usyk to challenge Joshua vs. Ruiz winner

Aleksandr Usyk Anthony Joshua

By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn is planning on rescheduling the clash between #1 WBO Oleksander Usyk and Carlos Takam for September, according to Michael Benson. The winner of that fight, which is expected to be the unbeaten Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs), would then challenge the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch.

That’s what Hearn is planning for, and it might not be a good deal for the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. winner. Usyk, 32, would get the title shot against the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. 2 rematch based on being the World Boxing Organization mandatory. Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. winner would be better off giving up the WBO title, and going after Dillian Whyte or Deontay Wilder.

Those are the money fights. Usyk is an unknown in the U.S, and his fighting style is too dull to make it interesting for either Joshua or Ruiz to waste time fighting him. He still fights like an amateur, and he moves too much to become a star in the heavyweight division.

In a highly criticized move, the WBO recently elevated Usyk from WBO cruiserweight champion to the #1 WBO heavyweight mandatory without him having to earn the top ranking. As such, Usyk will get a crack at the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. rematch, as long as he beats 38-year-old Carlos Takam (36-5-1, 28 KOs) in September. Given that Takam has lost 2 out of his last 3 fights, you’d have to say that the 6’2″ Usyk will have an excellent shot at beating him.

It would be better if Hearn actually had Usyk earn a title shot by putting him in with someone like Dillian Whyte or Filip Hrgovic. Usyk would at least be a credible contender when he eventually gets a title shot. If all Usyk has to do to fight for a title is to beat 38-year-old journeyman Takam, it’s going to look wrong in the eyes of the knowledgeable boxing fans.

Andy Ruiz Jr. or Joshua have no reason to keep WBO belt

Hearn wants the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. fight to face Usyk, but he can’t force them to. If they vacate the WBO title, then Usyk would have to face someone else for the belt. There’s no point in Ruiz Jr. or Joshua to face Usyk, because he’s not popular, and he has an ugly spoiling style that isn’t fan friendly. Usyk was booed badly in his fights against Michael Hunter and Thabiso Mchunu. He was equally boring to watch in his wins over Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew. A wise move for the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch would be to vacate the WBO title, and then let Whyte fight Usyk.

If Whyte beats Usyk, it sets up a much bigger and more entertaining fight between Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. winner with Dillian. Joshua or Ruiz against Whyte would be exciting. You can’t say that same thing about those fighters facing Usyk. That would be boring in this writer’s opinion. If you look at Usyk’s fight against Joe Joyce several years ago, it was painfully dull to watch. It was like watching paint dry in the afternoon sun. Joyce spent the entire time attacking, whereas Usyk was back peddling and spoiling, and looking to pot shot. Not thrilling stuff to watch.

Josh Kelly has three options for his next fight

Hearn has three options for unbeaten welterweight contender Josh Kelly for his next fight, according to Benson. Those options are as follows:

Ray Robinson

David Avanesyan

Samuel Vargas

#9 WBA Kelly (9-0-1, 6 KOs) fought to a 10 round draw against Ray Robinson (24-3-2, 13 KOs) last month on June 1 on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 2016 Olympian Kelly was fortunate not to have been given a loss against Robinson, because a lot of boxing fans thought he deserved to lose the fight.

Kelly, 25, spent a significant portion of the fight with his back against the ropes, taking big shots from the 33-year-old Robinson. It appeared that Kelly thought he could duck the shots from Robinson, but he was hit by many of them. Robinson, who is not a huge puncher, did an admirable job of mixing up his shots from head to body. When Kelly would move his head, Robinson hit him repeatedly in his unguarded midsection. Boxing News 24 had Robinson winning the fight by an 8 rounds to 2 score. Kelly looked woefully bad. He’s not showing signs of improvement since turning pro a few years ago.

A rematch between Kelly and Robinson would be the smartest move for Hearn to make, but that’s not the match-up that he wants. Hearn wants to put Kelly in with EBU welterweight champion Avanesyan (24-3-1, 12 KOs). If Kelly beats the 30-year-old Avanesyan, it would result in him being moved up the world rankings to put him in position to fight for a world title. Kelly could make good money fighting for a world title against the like of Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter or Terence Crawford.

Hearn will likely look to get Kelly a fight against Pacquiao if he beats Thurman this month in their contest on July 20. Kelly would stand very little chance of beating any of those guys, but that’s not what this is about. It would be a more business level fight in which Kelly would get a big payday fighting for a world title.

Once Kelly loses, he can drop back down to defend the EBU belt, and slowly build up for another world title shot that he has little chance of winning. Kelly’s lack of punching power, slow hand speed and his bad habit of fighting with his hands down by his sides will limit what he accomplishes during his career at the pro level. He’s not suited to be fighting at the world level obviously.

David Avanesyan too good for Josh Kelly?

Avanesyan will give Kelly a lot of problems, but it’s a winnable fight for Josh. In Avanesyan’s last bout in March, he stopped Kerman Lejarraga in the ninth round to capture the EBU welterweight title That was a surprise to a lot of boxing fans for Avanesyan won that fight, because he had lost 2 out of his last three matches going in.

Before beating the Spanish fighter Lejarraga (28-1, 23 KOs), Avanesyan had suffered recent losses to Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Lamont Peterson. What those defeats showed is Avanesyan lacks the punching power to compete with the better fighters in the welterweight division. In the case of Lejarraga, he was such a flawed fighter that even a light puncher like Avanesyan was able to expose those glaring defects in his game to score a knockout. Avanesyan needs to consider oving down in weight to the 140 pound weight class if he wants to do anything with his career.

Kelly is pretty much on the same level as Avanesyan, but his technical skills and ring IQ aren’t on the Russian fighter’s level. Avanesyan is a smarter fighter with fewer bad habits. Kelly fancies himself as a Roy Jones Jr. type of fighter, but the problem is he lacks hand speed, power and the quick reflexes to fight with the style he uses. Even against second tier guys like Robinson and Przemyslaw Runowski, Kelly was getting hit A LOT.

Josh Kelly needs to change his fighting style

Kelly’s trainer Adam Booth should have sat him down after his fight with Runowski and had a long talk with him about getting him to start fighting with his hands up instead down by his sides. Booth needed to tell Kelly to STOP showboating, and instead just fight in a technically sound manner, because he’s never going to be a superstar level fighter.

Kelly lacks the talent to do the type of things inside the ring that Roy Jones Jr. did during his prime. Kelly is just a basic fighter with decent skills, but he ruins things for himself by trying to fight in a style that his body can’t support.

Samuel Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs) will be a tough fight for Kelly due to his experience and punching power. Unless he changes his fighting style, Kelly might lose to Vargas if he goes into a fight with his hands down by his sides. Vargas dropped Amir Khan in the second round last August, and hurt him on another occasion as well.

Khan won the fight by a 12 round decision, but it wasn’t an easy match for him. Vargas showed that Khan is over-the-hill in that fight. If Kelly fights Vargas, he could expose him as being inadequate to fight at the world level. Hearn needs to think twice about making this fight. It would be better for Kelly if Hearn keeps him at the level of Ray Robinson, because any big puncher is going to take advantage of his low guard to hurt him.

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