Usyk says Fury the toughest opponent, and Wilder the easiest
By Charles Brun: Oleksandr Usyk has a lot of eyes on him now that he’s moved up to heavyweight. Champions Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury are dismissive of Usyk, seeing him as too small, too weak and too limited at the heavyweight level to be a threat to them.
The weight difference between the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions is so huge that it’s rare for fighters to move up in weight and be successful. It’s been done once by Evander Holyfield, but he was special case.
Usyk faces Witherspoon tonight on DAZN
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk is making his heavyweight debut tonight against Chazz Witherspoon on DAZN at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) isn’t looking past Witherpoon, because he wants to make sure he wins this fight. He’s already the WBO mandatory at heavyweight for the winner of the Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua fight.
Usyk was asked this week who the toughest opponent is for him at heavyweight, and he surprisingly named lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. He then said WBC champion Deontay Wilder would be his easiest fight in terms of the champions. Usyk later said he was just kidding about Wilder being the easiest, but it’s hard to know if he was serious or not.
Earlier this week, Wilder stated that Usyk isn’t a threat to him due to him being “too small.”
“Oleksandr Usyk isn’t a threat to me. He’s too small for me,” said Wilder to Sky Sports News. “I mean, he does a lot of movement, and stuff like that, but that don’t faze me.”
The 6’3″ Usyk weighed in at 215 pounds last Friday for his heavyweight debut tonight against 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon (38-3, 29 KOs). While Usyk’s weight is only 5 lbs lighter than the 220 lbs that Wilder weighed for his last fight against Dominic Breazeale, it’s still very light for a heavyweight. Wilder, 6’7″, has huge one-punch power, and blazing hand speed that enables him to get away with being light for the heavyweight division. Unfortunately for Usyk, he’s not in the same boat. He’s not a huge puncher, and his hand speed is average at best.
Usyk must win using finesse at heavyweight
The two things that Usyk has going for him is mobility and his southpaw stance. That might not be enough for Usyk to beat the larger heavyweights in the division. He’ll probably win tonight’s fight against Witherspoon, but only because he’s not facing a relevant fighter. Witherspoon was a fringe contender during the prime of his career over a decade ago. He’s out of place in this current era of heavyweights.
Fury lucky not to have lost to Wallin
After Fury’s recent fight against Otto Wallin, it’s hard to take Usyk serious in saying that he would be his toughest fight. Fury edged Wallin, and he should have been stopped from the huge cut that he suffered in round 3. The cut later required over 40+ stitches to close.
Usyk: Fury = toughest fight; Wilder the easiest
“The hardest would be Tyson Fury,” said Usyk when asked who would be his toughest fight at heavyweight. “And Deontay Wilder is the easiest. I just want to fight him. Why do you think so?” said Usyk when asked if he personally dislikes Wilder.
“He has a belt. I was joking that he’s the easiest of opponents. Of course, no. He is the champion of the world. He’s a strong guy, and he has the belt, which is my favorite color [green].
“So if I have a chance, when I have a chance, I will face him. I don’t feel like I can dislike him. Even though people can be abusing me, I can still go on loving them,” said Usyk.
Usyk would struggle with Fury’s height and reach
The 6’9″ Fury would be a tough fight for Usyk because of his huge size and weight advantage. Fury is a real heavyweight, and not a transplanted cruiserweight looking for bigger paydays than what he’s been getting.
Usyk will have a hard time getting to Fury to land headshots, and he could end up being Christian Hammer 2.0. Like Hammer, Usyk is too short and weak in the punching power department. Fury does well against those types of heavyweights.
Wilder could be huge threat to Usyk
Usyk likes to dance around the ring, throwing jabs, and using angles. That wouldn’t be enough for him to stay out of the 6’7″ Wilder’s long reach. Sooner or later, Wilder would land something on the button, and Usyk would have problems taking that kind of power.
Since Usyk still hasn’t faced a heavyweight, it makes it difficult to extrapolate how he would do against a puncher with the dimensions of Wilder. Usyk looked like the weaker fighter in his last contest against Tony Bellew in November 2018. That was 11 months ago at cruiserweight. In looking at Usyk’s recent workouts, he doesn’t look any more powerful than he was back then. Usyk was losing to Bellew going into the 8th round, which is when he stopped him. Bellew gassed out, and Usyk took advantage of the situation in knocking him out.
Usyk reacts to Fury’s comment about beating him with one hand
“Of course, there are some people that I would like to beat them down, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t like them,” said Usyk. “I won’t say on camera. It’s a secret,” said Usyk when asked who he wants to beat down in the heavyweight division.
“He says he wants to fight me with one hand tied behind his back. I will accept it, and it’ll be easy. But let me find out what his real thoughts are, because one day he says I’m good, and the next day he says I’m not good. I don’t know. Be happy, heavyweights. I’m coming,” said Usyk. “Yes, I’m coming,” said Usyk.
It’ll be interesting to see what Matchroom does with Usyk if he loses tonight or if he gets beaten by the Joshua-Ruiz winner. Do they cut their losses, and release Usyk from his contract or do they keep him around?
Oleksandr unsure if he’ll need more fights to prepare for title shot
“No one knows if it’s enough or not,” said Usyk to Behind The Gloves when asked if he thinks he needs additional fights AFTER Witherpoon to prepare to fight Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch winner. “We just need to give people the possibility to see if they can do it or not. That’s my attitude. I just need to see if I can step into the ring to see if I can do that. When I get the opportunity, I will use it, and you will see and say if I did it good or not,” said Usyk.
— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) October 12, 2019
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