Hearn: Oleksandr Usyk’s next fight will be for world title
By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn says Oleksandr Usyk will be fighting for a heavyweight world title in his next fight following his 7th round knockout win over Chazz Witherspoon last Saturday night at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
Unfortunately, Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) didn’t knockout the out of shape 38-year-old Witherspoon in a clinical fashion. It was a case of Witherspoon gassing out, and quitting on his stool after the 7th round had ended. Witherspoon looked out of shape, and not in condition to be fighting a younger guy like Usyk.
Afterwards, Usyk’s badly marked up face told the whole story of what kind of performance we saw from him. It was not a great effort that screamed out that he should fight for a world title next against the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch winner.
What the fans are saying about Usyk’s performance is that they don’t feel he’s ready to be taking on Joshua, Ruiz Jr., Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder. They want to see Usyk get some experience at heavyweight against a good fighter that is relevant. Witherspoon is not a top tier heavyweight, and he shouldn’t have been able to mark up Usyk’s face the way he did.
Usyk’s next fight will be for a world title says Hearn
“It was a good performance,” said Hearn to IFL TV about Usyk’s performance against Witherspoon. “I thought he got a few little checks from Witherspoon early on from a good right hand. I’m laying my cards on the table. Monday, we got a call from the Commission that [Tyrone] Spong had failed his drug test with VADA. So we got Witherspoon.
“I want a guy that tries, and a guy that is capable. He [Usyk] needs a test against a bigger man, and he was all of that. And he was perfect in that respect. He went seven rounds, and got hit on the chin a few times.
“Even when Usyk was under pressure, he was trading, he was dangerous, and he’ll come again. I thought he was great. I think if Chazz had been a little fitter on more of a notice, I think he would have done more rounds. You have to understand, Usyk’s next fight will be for the world heavyweight title,” said Hearn.
Hearn in a hurry to get Usyk a world title shot
It’s understandable why Hearn would want Usyk, 32, to fight for a world title so quickly after just one fight. Given the pressure boxing fans will be putting on the 2012 Olympic gold medalist to face an actual top contender with real talent will be high now, and Hearn can’t get away with putting him in with fodder opponents.
After the fight, Hearn attempted to defuse the criticism he was getting for matching Usyk against such an old past his prime heavyweight like 38-year-old Witherspoon by saying that his originally scheduled opponent Tyrone Spong failed a drug test.
Spong would have likely been over-matched as well against Usyk. The 34-year-old Spong is a former kick-boxer with very little experience in boxing, and he was given a high ranking by the WBO based on wins over Santander Silgado and Carlos Ailton Nascimento. The type of guys that Hearn would be pressured to match Usyk up against are high level fighters like Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker and Joe Joyce. Those fighters might beat Usyk or make him look bad. That’s something that potentially wreck things for Usyk, and it wouldn’t be a good thing for Hearn. He promotes Usyk, and he wants him to fight for a world title.
Hearn says Usyk is handicapped by small size
“He doesn’t have one-punch power,” said Hearn about Usyk. “And he’s not a heavyweight. He doesn’t punch as hard as some of the bigger heavyweights. That’s a handicap, but he’s so good. His feet are so good, and he’s so smart that he’s handicapped by the fact that he’s small and doesn’t punch as hard a those guys. I thought it was a really good performance, and he got the rounds. And I thought Chazz did really well, and I’m quite pleased with it.
“I think it’s dangerous for everybody,” said Hearn about Usyk challenging the winner of the December 7th fight between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua. “He will fight for a world heavyweight title next. I don’t know who that’s against, but he’s in that position. He’s the mandatory challenger for the world heavyweight title. He’s not going to let that slip, and he’s not going to let that pass. So that’s it. I’m just glad he got 7 rounds tonight,” said Hearn.
Hearn hit it on the head in saying that Usyk is handicapped by a lack of size and power at heavyweight. But he thinks that Usyk’s footwork is so good that it makes up for what he lacks. Usyk does move well for a heavyweight, but not that well. He’s not at the level of a young Muhammad Ali type of mover. Witherspoon wasn’t beaten by Usyk’s movement last Saturday. What beat Witherspoon was him being out of shape, and with slow hand speed. Usyk doesn’t have blazing hand speed either, but he was faster than Witherspoon, and was able to throw a lot of punches. There are guys in the top tier with better hand speed than Usyk, and who move just as well if not better.
Usyk now has experience at heavyweight says Hearn
“He’s the undisputed cruiserweight world champion. He’s boxed [Tony] Bellew, and he’s boxed up at heavyweight against David Haye. And he’s boxed [Murat] Gassiev, and Gassiev is now at heavyweight,” said Hearn in talking about cruiserweights that moved up to heavyweight. “He [Usyk] boxed Marco Huck, and Huck is now a heavyweight.
“Tonight, he boxed a 245 pound heavyweight. That’s the same weight as [Anthony] Joshua. So he boxed a big guy. He said, ‘when you’re up close, you can feel it on your arms, and you can feel the difference,'” said Hearn in explaining what Usyk said about how the heavyweight is different than the cruiserweight division. “He’s going to get hit a lot harder than Chazz Witherspoon, and he’s going to be sharper. Now he’s got the experience,” said Hearn.
Hearn saying that Usyk now has experience at heavyweight following his fight with Witherspoon doesn’t translate to it being a good experience. Usyk fought in the World Series of Boxing against heavyweights with more on the ball than Witherspoon. For Usyk to get true experience at heavyweight, he’s got to fight someone good, and preferably still in their prime.
It’s not going to help Usyk if Hearn matches him against former kick-boxers in their mid-30s or fighters nearing 40-years-old. Usyk isn’t going to get valuable experience fighting any of them, but perhaps Hearn isn’t concerned with that. After all, he’s in a hurry to get Usyk an immediate world title shot against the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. fight.