CONSIDERING he boxed three times in 2018 and was arguably the standout fighter of that year, it’s strange to think Oleksandr Usyk will have been inactive for almost 12 months by the time he touches gloves with his first professional heavyweight opponent on Saturday (October 12) at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena.
He deserved a break, no question. He deserved a break more than any fighter in the sport, in fact. Yet the gap-toothed genius’ presence has been sorely missed and his debut as a heavyweight is now eagerly anticipated.
In case you have somehow forgotten, last year Usyk defeated Mairis Briedis in January, Murat Gassiev in July and then Tony Bellew in November. The Briedis and Gassiev wins delivered Usyk, 16-0 (12), the World Boxing Super Series trophy, while the knockout of Bellew, secured in the eighth round, introduced him to a British crowd for the first time. As far as calendar years go, it was as good as it gets, especially when you factor in the Ukrainian achieved all this at cruiserweight, hardly a division awash with opportunity and profile.