Oleksandr Usyk not worried about being undersized at heavyweight
By Kenneth Friedman: Oleksandr Usyk isn’t overly concerned about being severely undersized for a heavyweight, as he believes that many of them are overweight. Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) has always used his maneuverability, speed, and ring IQ to win his fights since he turned professional in 2013 at cruiserweight.
At cruiserweight, Usyk used his skills and intelligence to unify that division in 2018. Not satisfied with the limited options for big money fights, the 6’3″ Usyk moved up to heavyweight last October and defeated 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon in his debut in that weight class.
For that fight, Usyk weighed only 215 pounds, and he didn’t look dominant at the weight. He won the battle by a seventh-round stoppage, but one reason for that is he was fighting an older fighter, who was 15 pounds over his best fighting weight in Witherspoon.
We’re going to see how well Usyk fits in at heavyweight soon when he faces Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) in November or December. It’s going to be a tough test, not only due to the shots Usyk will be getting hit with, but also he’ll need to impress the boxing public. He can’t run from Chisora without turning off fans at home.
Usyk: Heavyweights are lazy
Rather than admitting that he lacks the size to take on the giant heavyweights like Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Dillian Whyte, Usyk believes some fighters in the weight class are too lazy to lose weight.
In other words, many of the heavyweights should be lighter and possibly around the same weight as Usyk. Until recently, Wilder had weighed close to 215 pounds, and he found a lot of success in the division. However, Wilder is a lot taller than Usyk at 6’7″, and he has massive punching power. The height of Wilder is the main factor for he punches the way he does.
“Some heavyweights are overweight and that prevents them from being efficient. Why did they not lose weight? Because of laziness. We see that in Ruiz vs AJ II. I think that the refrigerator won,” said Usyk to USYK17.
Labeling massive heavyweights as lazy is an inaccurate label, and, interestingly, Usyk has come to that conclusion to account for the size of fighters. If you look at the goliath-like Joshua and Fury, they’re not lazy, and they wouldn’t necessarily be better off if they trimmed down 20 to 30 pounds.
Joshua and Fury are natural heavyweights, and it has nothing to do with laziness for them weighing so much. Usyk still hasn’t found out what it’s like to take on a top tier heavyweight. He could be in for a surprise when that happens.
Oleksandr won’t go far without power
In Usyk’s match against Witherspoon, he looked marked up at the end of the contest in the seven rounds. The thing is, Witherspoon isn’t a big puncher, and he was well past his prime.
In one of Usyk’s tougher fights at cruiserweight, he struggled to beat Michael Hunter, and he had to use movement to win a dull decision. The crowd booed Usyk for his amateur fighting style, and it was hard to watch.
Usyk won’t be able to win fights like against the taller heavyweights like Fury and Joshua because they have too much size and reach on him. He’s going to have to get in the trenches with them and try and beat them at their own game somehow.
It’s difficult to predict a rosy future for Usyk at heavyweight. Indeed, we’ll likely find out soon that Usyk is too weak and small to compete at the upper levels of the heavyweight division.
But on the Brightside, he’s going to make a lot of money when he fights Joshua in 2021, and he won’t need to worry about paying his bills.
There’s a perfect chance that Usyk will be asking himself some tough questions by the end of 2021 about whether he should stay at heavyweight after he faces Joshua and loses.
Age is creeping up on Usyk
Usyk recently turned 33 last January, and that’s pretty old for someone that hasn’t made a mark heavyweight. What he did at cruiserweight is meaningless, as it’s a division that is filled with lesser talents. It’s a different story at heavyweight because fighters need size, skills, speed, and ability to succeed.
Usyk isn’t fast, he’s not overpowering, and he’s got age working against him. If Usyk fails against Joshua next year, he could be waiting a long, long time before he gets another world title shot. It could take Usyk two or three years before he gets another crack at a title, and that would depend on him beating a quality fighter to get the spot.
The World Boxing Organization gave Usyk the mandatory spot at heavyweight without him needing to earn it. That’s one of the reasons why the fans are wary of Usyk’s ability to win a world title in the heavyweight division.
He didn’t need to earn his title shot like ordinary fighters in the weight class. It was given to him because he had previously held the WBO cruiserweight title. When you get guys that are given world title shots without earning it, you often see them fail badly.
They get found out, and this is something that would have happened earlier if they needed to earn the spot. Would Usyk do well against a sizeable heavyweight contender like Dillian Whyte, Daniel Dubois, or Andy Ruiz?
Oleksandr will need to win the hard way
Usyk did beat Joe Joyce in the World Series of Boxing years ago, but it was a tough fight for him.
Physically, Usyk is the same size as he was when he fought against Joyce, and he wasn’t able to trouble him with his power. If Usyk is forced to go 12 rounds to beat the more massive heavyweights, he might not be able to take the punishment to go the distance.
Being forced to go the full 12 rounds every time will result in Usyk taking a lot of punishment, which in turn will shorten his career. Getting hit by Joshua repeatedly for 12 rounds is going to be grueling for Usyk, and he might not be able to take that kind of punishment.
If Usyk can beat most of the other heavyweights in the division, then he might be able to carve out a spot making good money on Matchroom’s shows. However, it’s not likely that Usyk will be ready to fight on Sky Box Office as the headliner the way British heavyweight Dillian Whyte does.
Usyk isn’t from the UK, and he doesn’t have an entertaining fighting style. Usyk is this generation’s version of Jimmy Young. Those types of heavyweights are not in demand, considering that they’re looking to box and spoil.
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