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As the future of the heavyweight division is decided when Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk fight it out for the undisputed crown on May 18, one boxer will watch the action keenly in the backstage area. Tipped as ‘British Mike Tyson,’ Moses Itauma might sit making mental notes, trying to decode how he would beat either of them a couple of years down the line. But before that, he has another name to dismantle.

Itauma has emerged as one of the hottest heavyweight prospects recently, and some fans already label him as a world champion in the making. He will look to put on a show as he fights Ilja Mezencev on the Fury vs. Usyk undercard on May 18 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In addition, he will see the bout as an audition for a ranked position. But before we dive into whether we have another easy, predictable fight or an upset on the cards, let’s have a look at how the fighters stack up.

Moses Itauma vs. Ilja Mezencev: Tale of the tape

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What’s more intimidating about Itauma? Is it his fearsome knockout power or intimidating 6’6″ (198 cm) frame? The British boxer is still molding himself into a complete boxer at 19. He has already carved out a reputation as a knockout machine with his impressive record of 8-0, with 6 KOs suggesting the same. Itauma prefers to finish the fight than take it to the distance, as he has a KO ratio of 75% currently. Moreover, Itauma utilizes his long 78.7″ (200cm) reach to swarm up his opponents and threaten to knock them out.

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Meanwhile, Mezencev, 28, is the more experienced of the two. The German boxer has also racked up an impressive record of 25-3 with 21 KOs. He also has a knack for knockouts, as he has a staggering KO ratio of 84%. Besides, he will carry the size advantage to the boxing ring, as he weighed 243.5 lbs (110.4 kgs) on the scales in the last fight, compared to Itauma’s 242.0 lbs (109.8 kgs). But how do these numbers translate into their performances and recent forms?

Recent form, momentum, and stylistic matchup

Itauma is coming off a first-round KO demolition job of Dan Garber this March. Apart from his brute boxing in the squared circle, he has a burning desire to prove that he is a complete boxer. Therefore, he has linked up with Ben Davison, who has turned around the careers of Anthony Joshua and Fury. For the Chatham native and Davison, it’s a “match made in heaven.”

Itauma showed up in the boxing ring seven times in 2023. He has the momentum, and under the guidance of Frank Warren, he has already grabbed eyeballs. With rising fame, he already has the opportunity to spar with the likes of ‘AJ’ and ‘The Gypsy King,’ the latter even dubbing him the “future of division.” The Southpaw boxer is already learning the art of boxing from the best in the division. Additionally, he deploys a forward-moving tactic. But what goes under the radar is his high ring IQ, which might trouble Mezencev.

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On the other hand, Mezencev has returned to the winner’s column as he appeared to be his usual destructive self against Petar Mrvalj. He dropped the previous close fight with Christian Demaj, as he suffered a split decision loss. However, the Hamburg native has the grit to bounce back from devastating blows and losses. The concern for Mezencev remains his inability to perform on the biggest stage, as two of his losses have come in title fights. Can he overcome his big stage jitters and pull off what some might call an upset against Itauma?

Prediction: Who wins it?

Stylistically, both fighters love to dictate the pace of the fights and rely on their brute force to churn out favorable results. Both are power punchers, but their in-ring boxing IQ will separate the two. What’s more, it’s a classic southpaw vs. orthodox showdown, so Mezencev might find it hard to adjust to the awkward punching angles of Itauma.

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You might be inclined towards Itauma to bag the win for obvious reasons. He knows the taste of the punches of the world champions and has already added those to his ever-expanding boxing knowledge. With Davison in his corner to hone his skills and polish him as a boxer, we might see a better version of Itauma, which might prove too much to handle for Mezencev. But this is not the first time he has had his back against the wall. Mezencev has what it takes to hand Itauma the first defeat of his career. Will that happen? We’ll find out, but we have Itauma winning this one with a KO.

What do you make of this coming fight between Moses Itauma and Ilja Mezencev? Do you believe the Brit will inch closer to his championship dream or will he meet an upset? Let us know in the comments below.