Opinion | May 08 2019

Oleksandr Usyk and another minor disaster for the heavyweight division

The long wait for Oleksandr Usyk's debut at heavyweight will continue
Oleksandr Usyk
Oleksandr Usyk v Tony Bellew - WBC, IBF, WBA & WBO World Cruiserweight Titles  |  Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

IT wasn’t meant to be this way. The heavyweight division was meant to be the most exciting thing in boxing in 2019. Remember when we naively thought Tyson Fury would rematch Deontay Wilder, and the winner might even fight Anthony Joshua to crown an undisputed heavyweight king. Even Joshua boxing Dillian Whyte at Wembley stadium would have been good. Instead we haven’t had a significant heavyweight fight yet this year. (And yes, I am aware Dave Allen-Lucas Browne took place.) The hope, the slender strand of hope we clung to was Oleksandr Usyk stepping in to shake up the division.

The Ukrainian was brilliant at cruiserweight. His footwork, speed and ring generalship are all factors that will serve him well against the big men at heavyweight. But will he be able to handle elite level power in the biggest division? Mairis Briedis and even Tony Bellew discomforted him at times. Carlos Takam would have been a good gauge for Usyk as a heavyweight. But now we’re not getting that.

Oleksandr Usyk

A biceps injury has ruled Usyk out of that May 25 bout, which had been set to take place in Maryland.

Now it remains to be seen whether the fight will be rescheduled. If it is, then there’s an even longer wait for Usyk to challenge Joshua. The Ukrainian will, as the WBO’s cruiser champion moving up, become the mandatory challenger for their heavyweight title which the Briton holds. That will be a good fight. But the long wait for it might well continue.

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