ALEKSANDR USYK is one of the most gifted fighters in the sport today and now, thanks to a link-up between K2 Promotions and Matchroom Boxing, appears to have the infrastructure in place to help garner the attention his talent deserves.
Winner of the recent World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) cruiserweight tournament, Usyk, the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO world cruiserweight champion, will have his next fight on streaming service DAZN, it was announced this afternoon.
“I’m thrilled that K2 Promotions will be working with Matchroom Boxing moving forward to secure me the biggest fights out there,” said Usyk. “Fans can look forward to watching me take on the biggest and best names in the sport. Boxing, for me, is all about drama and victory, and there is plenty more to come.
“Thankfully, England is more than just a country for me. In this country I got what I was reaching for half of my life: I got my Olympic gold medal and in Liverpool I became European champion in 2008. England is a lucky country for me and fortune comes only with hard work.”
It is expected Usyk will defend his array of cruiserweight belts in a blockbuster fight with Tony Bellew before the year is out. Failing that, he might consider the cruiserweight mission complete and jump up to the heavyweight division, the Promised Land for many a 200-pound fighter hungry for a payday and a fresh challenge.
“A fight with Tony Bellew would be a momentous occasion,” said Usyk. “He is a good boxer and a good person and I also have the option to move into the heavyweight division.”
“Usyk holds all the cards at cruiserweight and is already eyeing a move to heavyweight and, in particular, a fight with Anthony Joshua,” said Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn. “Right now, our priority is to try and finalise a super-fight with Tony Bellew later this year. But, either way, we will announce his next fight in the very near future, which will come to you live on DAZN and Sky Sports.”
Alex Krassyuk of K2 Promotions said: “In his 15 fights to date he has created history by becoming the first cruiserweight to unify all four belts and there is more history to be made. He knows that in order to become the king of world boxing he will have to dethrone the biggest name in boxing – Anthony Joshua.
“But this is for the future. For now, a cruiserweight showdown with Tony Bellew is our focus. We are hoping the deal will be finalised shortly and the fight will be announced soon.”
It’s certainly the fight that makes most sense. Before exploring the riches at heavyweight, Usyk should be encouraged to make a splash on British soil, and in the form of Tony Bellew, a former WBC champion who never lost as a cruiserweight, would seem to have the perfect foil. Charismatic cruiserweights predisposed to slugging it out, what’s not to like?
A fight is never really official, never really believable, until the two boxers involved are in a ring together and the first bell is about to ring. This is particularly true in the case of so-called super-fights, especially heavyweight ones, and whenever we find ourselves dealing with larger-than-life boxers, managers and promoters.
The mooted WBC world heavyweight showdown between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury is a prime example of this. Deemed too good to be true when first rumoured, we have since seen the pair trade messages on social media, go head-to-head in Belfast, and beat the drum loudly for a November or December showdown in Las Vegas.
Still, though, we await official confirmation: a date, a venue, a green light that allows fans to book hotels, flights and tickets. Because of this, because of the delay, the cynical among us have assumed the fight is close to collapse, a suggestion ridiculed by Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, as well as the fighters themselves.
Wilder, in fact, today revealed an announcement could be just around the corner.
“Announcement any day now,” he wrote on social media. “Thank you for being patient. This is going to be an amazing fight.”
He added: “5:17am and I’m up shadowboxing thinking about Tyson Fury. Oh boy, when I’m done with you, the only thing you’ll be able to eat is New England clam chowder soup.”
Granted, it’s not the finest piece of pre-fight trash talk, but what’s more important is the message behind it. If Wilder’s to be believed, this fight, originally considered a private joke between a couple of pranksters keen to gazump Anthony Joshua, could be about to become a reality.
In keeping with the custom of the sport, Curtis Woodhouse has retired, unretired, launched a comeback and, today, announced a second retirement – a proper one this time.
The former British champion and professional footballer initially bowed out in 2014 after losing a Commonwealth title fight against Willie Limond. A step too far, it was considered the perfect note on which to end the adventure.
Yet, as is often the case, the pull of the fight game continued unabated and it wasn’t long before Woodhouse, also a lower league football manager, was tempted back.
He returned in 2017, winning two fights that year, the last of which, a six-round decision over Lewis van Poetsch, now marks the final time anyone will see the Driffield man in the ring.
“First time I retired I wasn’t ready. This time I am,” Woodhouse, 38, tweeted.
“Last night I officially retired for good from professional boxing. Blessed to have played my part in this fantastic sport. I’ll miss you all.”
Without a single amateur bout, he turned professional as a boxer in 2006, setting a goal to win the British title, and managed to achieve this in eight years. There were ups and downs along the way, of course, but Woodhouse’s story is ultimately one of perseverance, a lesson in never giving up, and was inspirational to anyone with similar urges.
The current manager of Northern Counties East League Premier Division side Bridlington Town, Woodhouse retires from professional boxing with a record of 24 wins and seven defeats. Written off at every stage of his career, he made the impossible seem possible.