How Did Oleksandr Usyk Shift From Cruiserweight to Heavyweight?

Published 09/25/2021, 6:43 AM EDT


Oleksandr Usyk has achieved success in the amateur and the professional chain. Boasting an Olympic gold in the amateurs, he stayed undefeated and became the undisputed cruiserweight world champion as a professional. However, Usyk now wants to have a piece of heavyweight glory. Hence, he has shifted towards facing bigger men.

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Heavyweight boxing has always been considered the most dangerous and entertaining aspect of the sport. Hence, in order to challenge himself, Usyk decided to explore the division comprising the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, and more.

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As the cruiserweight division’s weight limit is 200 lbs, while the heavyweight roster has no limits, per ESPN, it was a challenge for him to be comfortable to box at a new weight. However, as a cruiserweight, Usyk would walk around as a heavyweight. Hence, for starters, the move would eliminate a weight cut.

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Usyk delivered brilliantly in his debut in the division against Chazz Witherspoon on October 12, 2019. He proved that he could hold his own against the heavier men.

Riding on an 8-fight win streak with 7 coming via KO, Witherspoon was a treacherous opponent for the heavyweight debutant. ‘The Gentleman’ Witherspoon offered sheer aggression, but lost the fight via RTD in round eight. A flawless Usyk alarmed the entire heavyweight division with his win and took a massive step up to fight Derek Chisora for a heavyweight title next.

Oleksandr Usyk and the heavyweight kings

In December 2020, Usyk and Chisora locked horns at Wembley Arena for the WBO Intercontinental heavyweight title. According to FightMag, Usyk weighed in at 217.25 lbs with Chisora at 255.5 lbs for the 12-rounds collision. This massive contrast looked prominent when both men stepped through the ropes.

On fight night, Usyk tried hard to stop Chisora. However, ‘WAR’ provided a tough fight and threatened to snatch Usyk’s undefeated tag several times. After an entertaining full-length contest, Usyk finally had his hands raised via UD.

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Following the win, matchmakers posed him to compete against Joe Joyce in a WBO title eliminator as Anthony Joshua was rumored to go for a unification bout against Tyson Fury. However, as AJ vs Fury fell off, it earned Usyk a shot at Anthony Joshua for the WBO, WBA, IBF, and IBO heavyweight belts.

Usyk stood 19 lbs below the heavyweight champion, Joshua, in the official weigh-in, handing a clear advantage to the Brit.

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Watch this story – Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk Stats: Record, Age, Height, Reach, and Knockout Ratio

However, irrespective of the result, Usyk has made a successful transition and has shown his abilities well in the weight class. Hence, he can be a tough challenge for many other fighters.

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Raj Sarkar

2545 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. He combined his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports and has a combined 2000 plus bylines in MMA and boxing over the last two years.

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