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Oleksandr Usyk to be at ringside to scout Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch

Aleksandr Usyk Anthony Joshua

By Robert Addams: Oleksandr Usyk will be scouting out the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch at ringside on December 7 in Saudi Arabia, as he’s expected to face the winner of that contest. Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) will be defending his IBF/WBA/WBO titles against former champion Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) on DAZN and Sky Sports Box Office.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) won his heavyweight debut last Saturday night on October 12 in stopping 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon (38-4, 29 KOs) in the 7th round in Chicago, Illinois.

Hearn: Usyk will be ringside to watch Joshua-Ruiz 2

“He will be out in Saudi Arabia to watch that fight,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn to about the 32-year-old Usyk planning on being on a scouting run at ringside for the Joshua-Ruiz rematch on the 7th of December.

Even before the Witherspoon fight, the World Boxing Organization had already installed Usyk as their #1 contender at heavyweight. This was a much criticized move on the WBO’s part, considering that they allowed Usyk to leapfrog over all their contenders in their top 15 heavyweight to give him the mandatory spot without working for it.

Fans wanted Usyk to a earn title shot, not be given it

Many of the fans didn’t like that move by the WBO, because they felt that Usyk should have had to work for the mandatory spot like normal fighters do instead of being given preferential treatment.

“I am ready to fight them. If they are going to [offer] it to me, of course I am going to take it,” said Usyk to about the Joshua vs. Ruiz winner.

Usyk isn’t stating the obvious. Joshua and Ruiz aren’t going to just give Usyk a title shot for the heck of it. They would be giving him a title shot due to the WBO likely ordering the winner of that fight to defend against him. The smart move on the part of the Joshua vs. Ruiz winner would be to offer Usyk a step aside fee so that they can take a much better paying fight against Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder. That would be a wise move. Another move would be to vacate the WBO heavyweight title.

If the WBO is going to try and force the Joshua-Ruiz winner to face Usyk rather than them willingly fighting him, then giving up the belt would be the smart move. Once the WBO is vacated. Usyk will be left with an empty title with few options for appealing fights. It’s far better for Joshua or Ruiz to vacate the WBO if they try and MAKE them defend against Usyk next rather than letting them pick a bigger money fight against Wilder or Fury.

Joshua vs. Ruiz winner gain little in defending against Usyk

The winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch likely won’t willingly offer Usyk a fight. Why would they? He’s not as popular as Wilder or Fury, who would bring in a lot more money. Usyk is still an unknown with casual boxing fans in both the U.S and the UK. There’s no upside in Joshua or Ruiz giving a title shot over Wilder or Fury.

It’s a fight that helps Matchroom, given that they promote Usyk, but it doesn’t help Joshua or Ruiz nearly as much because they’ll be talking on a less popular fighter in Usyk when they could make more money fighting Wilder or Fury.

Usyk has a spoiling style of fighting that would make it a little more difficult for Joshua or Ruiz to beat him, because they would have to chase him around the ring. Usyk has shown in past fights at cruiserweight that he won’t stand and brawl against fighters with more power than him. He’s not the biggest puncher, and he’s not capable of winning fights with his power or high volume punching.

Usyk unified the cruiserweight division by winning all 4 belts in 2018, and he captured the Muhammad Ali Trophy by winning the World Boxing Super Series. He beat Mairis Briedis, Marco Huck and Murat Gassiev in the WBSS tournament. Usyk won his 4 titles at cruiserweight by beating these fighters:

  •  Krzysztof Glowacki [WBO]
  • Briedis [WBC]
  • Gassiev [IBF & WBA].

Usyk doesn’t want any additional heavyweight tune-ups

Hearn says Usyk has told him that he wants the world title shot next. Although Hearn thinks it wouldn’t be bad for Usyk to take another tune-up at heavyweight, he says that Team Usyk say they’ve already unified the cruiserweight division and fought in a heavyweight debut. They want the world title shot now against the Joshua-Ruiz winner.

The boxing world would like to see Usyk fight at least one credible contender at heavyweight before he challenges for a world title. Usyk’s win over 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon is hardly preparation to fight for a world title against Joshua or Ruiz. To validate Usyk as worthy of a title shot, he should at least beat someone like Dillian Whyte, Kubrat Pulev or Joe Joyce. The thing is, Usyk might lose to all of those guys. Would he even agree to fight them if Hearn asked him?

Hearn probably wouldn’t be too happy if the Joshua vs Ruiz rematch winner threw him a curve ball and vacated the WBO belt in order to go after a bigger payday against Wilder or Fury.

“I thought it was good,” said Hearn to Boxing Social about Usyk’s heavyweight debut against Witherspoon. “There are still questions about whether Usyk will have the power to KO the big heavyweights? Can he sustain the power? He got hit a few times. He’s giving away 30 pounds. It’s not going to be easy. We know that Usyk is a world class fighter, and pound-for-pound great. You’re going to see him in some huge heavyweight fights in 2020,” said Hearn.

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