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Oleksandr Usyk to fight on Oct.12 at Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois

Alexander Usyk

By Charles Brun:  Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk will be making his heavyweight debut in two months from now in the headliner fight on October 12 on DAZN at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. This will be a Matchroom Boxing promoted card on DAZN.

The location of the fight is strange one, because Usyk isn’t from Chicago. He’s from Ukraine, and it would seem like a smarter move to stage the fight in New York. Many of Usyk’s fans live in that area, and it would have a better chance of bringing in a large audience.

Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) is still expected to face 38-year-old recently twice beaten Carlos Takam  (36-5-1, 28 KOs). If Usyk wins that fight, he’ll be ready to challenge the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch. The 32-year-old Usyk is already the World Boxing Organization mandatory challenger to WBO heavyweight champion Ruiz Jr. despite never having fought in the weight class. If the WBO orders the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. winner to face Usyk, it could lead to them vacating the belt if they can’t get an exception. There are much bigger fights out there for the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. winner than defending an arguably undeserving challenger in Usyk.

Usyk made WBO mandatory without ever fighting at heavyweight

Oleksandr was given the mandatory by the WBO based on him previously holding their cruiserweight title. Some boxing fans aren’t in favor of the WBO giving champions mandatory status in the divisions above their weight class, because they see it as unfair to the contenders that have been waiting for a title shot. In this case, Usyk is being allowed by the WBO to jump ahead of a lot of well known heavyweights in the sanctioning bodies’ top 15 ranking to be made mandatory.

Takam has lost 2 out of his last 3 fights since 2017 in knockout defeats at the hands of Anthony Joshua and Dereck Chisora. Given Takam’s lack of success, it’s difficult for the hardcore boxing fans to get excited about him being Usyk’s next opponent. Joshua stopped Takam in the tenth round in October 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. In Takam’s next fight, Chisora (31-9, 22 KOs) knocked him out in the eighth round last year in July 2018 in London, England. The obvious question is with Takam having lost two of his last three bouts, why is he being used as an opponent for Usyk’s heavyweight debut on October 12? The answer is simple. Takam has a recognizable name with the casual boxing fans, who have only scant knowledge about the sport, and most importantly he’s little threat to beating Usyk.

Usyk won’t be getting much of a test against Takam

It’s important that Usyk not lose before facing the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. fight, because Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn would have at least one of his fighters from his stable fighting the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. fight. The way that Usyk fought in his last fight against former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew last September, he’s not likely going to do well at heavyweight. Usyk is too small, too weak, and too finesse oriented to excel at heavyweight, unless he’s matched carefully. That explains why Hearn is putting Usyk in with the 38-year-old Takam rather than someone that could potentially punch his lights out like Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker or Luis Ortiz.

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