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Is Oleksandr Usyk the Real Deal at Heavyweight?

Kelsey McCarson




Oleksandr Usyk will make his long-awaited heavyweight debut on May 25 against former title challenger Carlos Takam at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. It will be Usyk’s third bout in the United States but his first since 2017 when he defeated Michael Hunter by unanimous decision at the same venue.

“At cruiserweight, I did it all and became the undisputed champion, and that is my goal now in the (heavyweight division),” said Usyk in a press release distributed by Matchroom Boxing. “This is the ultimate challenge, and it begins on May 25 against Carlos Takam. It’s a tough first fight, but I need to test myself against world class opposition on my new road to undisputed.”

While Takam probably isn’t quite as elite as Usyk states, the 38-year-old is at least a relevant heavyweight who has gone rounds with some of the very best fighters in the world. Though not quite championship material, Takam is a rugged gatekeeper capable of helping determine whether Usyk will be, or at least has the potential to become, the real deal as a heavyweight contender.

Usyk, 32, of Ukraine, was more than a contender at the 200-pound limit. Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) defeated Murat Gassiev in July 2018 in Moscow to win the inaugural World Boxing Super Series tournament to become just the third undisputed cruiserweight champion in history. Evander Holyfield did it first in 1988, and O’Neil Bell followed in 2006. Of the two, Usyk is hoping to be more like Holyfield than Bell.

Bell immediately lost his next fight and was out of boxing within four years. Sadly, the fighter also lost his life in 2015 when he was shot and killed during a robbery in Atlanta.

After cleaning out the cruiserweight division at the age of 25, Holyfield went on to achieve legendary status among the heavyweight greats. He knocked out James “Buster” Douglas in 1990 and spent the rest of the next two decades battling the likes of Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe during a total of four heavyweight title reigns.

And while Holyfield might be considered by historians to be the best cruiserweight ever, he’s most certainly remembered today for those amazing heavyweight exploits.

Usyk seems to compare nicely with Holyfield. Both were Olympic medal winners. Usyk won gold in 2012 at heavyweight while Holyfield took home the bronze at light heavyweight in 1984. Usyk is 6 foot 3 inches tall with a 78-inch reach. Holyfield was half an inch shorter with the same reach.

Neither would be considered a one-punch knockout artist but both carry enough pop in their fists, and, more importantly, skills in their impressive arsenals, to outbox their opponents with clean, effective counterpunches.

While there’s probably no single win on Usyk’s ledger as epic as Holyfield’s two wins over Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Usyk’s road to cruiserweight glory was by no means an easy task. In fact, Usyk took on a Murderer’s Row of 200-pound stalwarts, the majority of which took place in front of his opponents’ home crowd fans.

It began in 2016 when he seized the WBO title from Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland. It continued the next year when he decisioned Hunter on American soil and stopped Marco Huck in Germany. In 2018, Usyk outboxed Mairis Briedis for the WBC title in Latvia and took care of Gassiev in Russia for the other two alphabet titles. At the end of the year, Usyk knocked out Tony Bellew in England for good measure.

Might he do something as grand at heavyweight?

In facing Takam, Usyk is facing a similar opponent to the one Holyfield faced when he moved up against James “Quick” Tillis, who was 38-13-1 at the time. Takam’s better days are behind him, as was true of the 31-year-old Tillis in 1988, but Takam is still dangerous enough to defeat any heavyweight below the current standard of divisional relevancy.

By matching him against Takam, Usyk’s promoter is taking a calculated gamble.

“This pound-for-pound star had dominated the cruiserweight division becoming undisputed champion after just 15 fights,” said Eddie Hearn. “Now he takes the daring leap to the land of the giants as he attempts to repeat his achievements in the heavyweight division.”

That’s faster than anyone. It took Holyfield 18 fights to nab all three of the belts required for undisputed status back then, though it should be noted that the fighter (or at least his handlers) didn’t have the luxury of a tournament like the WBSS.

From there, Holyfield competed in a total of six heavyweight bouts over the next two years before finally getting his title shot in 1990. While Usyk might have a faster path to such things in that his promoter, Hearn, also promotes unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, it might make some sense for Usyk to get at least a few fights at the weight before attempting to accomplish the same.

Where Holyfield would one day go toe-to-toe with larger super-freak athletes like Lewis, there was nobody in the division during Holyfield’s first run at the heavyweight title who would carry as large of a height or as big of a weight advantage over him the way Joshua, WBC champion Deontay Wilder or lineal champ Tyson Fury would versus Usyk.

While the heavyweight division of the 1990s is considered one of the deepest rosters in the history of the sport, Holyfield’s path to that first heavyweight championship went through fighters he was either taller than or very near in terms of size and weight..

Usyk could use some time to develop into whatever kind of heavyweight he can be. Takam (36-5-1, 28 KOs) is a career heavyweight and a logical first test. After that, Usyk could reasonably be matched against the likes of Alexander Povetkin, or perhaps another fighter who has only lost to legitimate world champions.

A couple of wins here and there, and who knows?

After witnessing what he did at cruiserweight, against both who he fought and where he did it, and judging simply on how very elite the fighter already looks, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to think that Usyk might be on his way to a really special career.

Maybe even by the end of it, Usyk turns out to be the realest deal of all, surpassing the original “Real Deal” Holyfield to become the new standard by which all cruiserweights who dare such moves are measured.

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Fast Results From Latvia: Mairis Briedis and the KO Doctor advance in the WBSS

Arne K. Lang



briedis vs glowacki

The semifinal round of the Wold Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament played out today in Riga, Latvia, the hometown of Mairis Briedis who was matched against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki. Both fighters had only one blemish on their ledger and in both cases their lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk.

The fans left happily after Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) knocked out Glowacki (34-2) in the third frame. But it was messy fight that invites a lot of second-guessing and likely a challenge from the Glowacki camp.

After a feeling-out first round, Briedis cranked up the juice. An errant elbow landed behind Glowacki’s head, putting him on the canvas. For this discretion, Briedis was docked a point. A legitimate knockdown followed — Glowacki was hurt — and then another knockdown after the bell had sounded. The referee could not hear the bell in the din. It was a wild scene.

The fight was allowed to continue, but didn’t last much longer. Coming out for round three, Glowacki wasn’t right and Briedis pounced on him, scoring another knockdown, leading referee Robert Byrd to waive the fight off at the 27 second mark. It wasn’t Byrd’s finest hour.

The tournament organizers anticipated the complication of a draw and assigned extra judges to eliminate this possibility. They did not anticipate the complication of a “no-contest.” If the outcome isn’t overturned, Briedis, a former WBC cruiserweight champ, is the new WBO title-holder.


In the co-feature, Miami-based Cuban defector Yunier Dorticos, nicknamed the KO Doctor, lived up to his nickname with a smashing one punch knockout of previously undefeated Andrew Tabiti. The end for Tabiti came with no warning in round 10. An overhand right left him flat on his back, unconscious. Referee Eddie Claudio didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:33.

It was easy to build case for Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs). He was three inches taller than Tabiti, packed a harder punch, and had fought stronger opposition. But it was understood that Tabiti, now 17-1, had a more well-rounded game. Moreover, there were concerns about Dorticos’ defense and stamina.

Dorticos was ahead on the scorecards after nine frames. He rarely took a backward step and let his hands go more freely. And it didn’t help Tabiti’s cause that he was docked a point for holding in the sixth frame. Earlier in that round, an accidental clash of heads left Dorticos with a cut over his right eye. The ringside physician was called into the ring to examine it and let the bout continue.

With the victory, Dorticos became the IBF world cruiserweight champion and moved one step closer to acquiring the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy in what will be, win or lose, the most lucrative fight of his career.

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Angel Ruiz Scores 93 Second KO in Ontario, CA




Angel Ruiz

(Ringside Report by Special Correspondent Tarrah Zeal) ONTARIO, CA – “Path to Glory” featured some of Southern California’s hottest prospects carving their image into the boxing world through the Thompson Boxing Promotions platform at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA Friday night.

Undefeated welterweight prospect Angel Ruiz (14-0, 11 KO) of Maywood, CA finished veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-13-1, 27 KO) from Los Mochis, Mexico with an impressive stoppage at 1:33 in the first round scheduled for eight.

At 21 years young, Ruiz (pictured) came into the night with four KO wins in his last four bouts and looking to continue his streak. A second-round body shot win over Gerald Avila (8-17-3) on May 10th and first round KO win against Roberto Almazan (8-9) just this year.

Ruiz was just getting started in the ring using his long distance and power punches to punish Zamudio.

Twenty seconds into the opening round, Ruiz’ mouthpiece went flying out and a timeout was called. Once the mouthpiece was placed back in, Ruiz administered a quick flurry of punches but with no exchange from Zamudio, referee Raul Caiz stepped in and stopped the main event fight.

After the fight interview Ruiz was asked about what he saw in the fight, “I see this guy. He wants to fight. He was trying to fight but I’m too hard. I got you.” Ruiz said. “I feel ready. I want to fight with the best.”

With 89 amateur bouts under his belt, although not signed with any promoters, Ruiz is verbally challenging Vergil Ortiz, “Vergil if you see this video, remember me”.


In he co-main event, a six round junior middleweight bout, Richard “Cool Breeze” Brewart (6-0, 2 KO) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA won a unanimous decision over Antonio “El Tigre” Duarte (2-1) of Tijuana, Mexico.

Brewart was coming into the fight looking like the faster, more technical fighter of the two. Duarte over-telegraphed all of his punches, allowing Brewart to use his overhand right and awesome agility to angle out of reach.

Even after Duarte checked Brewart on the chin with a strong punch, Brewart’s power punches always ended the rounds. The judges scored the bout 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Brewart.

Other Bouts

A victorious unanimous decision at the end of a six-round toe-to- toe bantamweight fight was given to Mario “Mighty” Hernandez, (8-1-1, 3 KO) of Santa Cruz, CA over lefty Victor “Lobo” Trejo Garcia (16-11-1, 8 KO) from Mexico City, Mexico.

Continuous hard punches were exchanged from both brawlers starting at the bell of round one. Fans were excited after a flurry of punches and then a clear push from Hernandez sent Trejo to the floor at the end of round three, giving the crowd excitement for the coming rounds.

It deemed to be a bit of a challenge for both, as orthodox Hernandez managed to match southpaw Trejo’s overhand right punches with his own in response. After six rounds of continuous action two judges scored the bout 57-56 and one 59-54 for Hernandez.

In what would be an exciting and entertaining four-round heavyweight bout, Oscar Torrez (6-0, 3 KO) from Riverside, CA took on Allen Ruiz (0-2) of Ensenada, Mexico.

A surprising uppercut from Ruiz, in the beginning of round one, put Torrez on the canvas and every eye in the room were all fixated on both brawlers. The look in Torrez’ eyes were more calculated, as he was careful from then on.

Wild punches were being thrown from Ruiz without fear of repercussion, but then a quick liver shot from Torrez sent him to his knees. After a couple of seconds to adjust back into the bout, Ruiz was then checked again by left hook to the chin knocking out his mouthpiece. There were 20 seconds left in round two and the round ended with no mouthpiece.

Torrez showed he was stronger and the more technical fighter and finally ended the bout by KO with a right hook to Ruiz’s body at 1:08 in the third round.

Jose “Tito” Sanchez, a rising featherweight prospect with two knockouts in his first two fights and training under star trainer Joel Diaz, out of Indio, CA, took on veteran Pedro “Pedroito” Melo (17-20-2, 8 KO). Even with his low experience in the professional boxing world, Sanchez showed his maturity in the ring by controlling the fight when following Melo around the ring and landing clean left hooks and powerful body shots. After four rounds Sanchez won by 40-36 on all three cards.

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Is the UFC Purchasing Premier Boxing Champions?

Miguel Iturrate



UFC Purchasing PBC?

Several news outlets are reporting that the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s parent company Endeavor is in talks with Al Haymon to purchase the Premier Boxing Champions. The deal is far from happening and will be complicated if it is completed. Let’s look at some of the details.

Dana White has been the face of the UFC since the brand was purchased by Zuffa in 2001 and over the years he has repeatedly hinted about invading the world of boxing. In his early days as the UFC’s head honcho, White even challenged his biggest star, Tito Ortiz, to a boxing match. The match never happened but to this day White will tell you he would have beaten Ortiz in a fight under Queensberry rules.

In more recent years the UFC co-promoted the Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr match and White, although he would vehemently deny it, also had to have at least tacitly approved of Oscar De LaHoya’s promotion of the third bout between Ortiz and his rival Chuck Liddell. That match-up was likely assessed by White this way: “If Oscar wants to promote MMA let him lose his money,” but he didn’t stand in the way of De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions.

White’s name has also come up in connection with Anthony Joshua. White is said to have had a huge offer ready for the then heavyweight champion, but he backed off when the realization hit that he could not make matches for Joshua in the way he is accustomed because he had no roster of potential opponents. However, White has been insistent that the UFC will “100 percent get into boxing.”

Under new owners Endeavor, White cannot operate like he did under old owners Zuffa, but if the deal goes down it is likely because White crafted some type of long term vision that he sold to Endeavor co-founder and CEO Ari Emanuel (pictured).

When Endeavor purchased the UFC in July of 2016 for a reported $4.05 billion, White agreed to guide the company for at least five more years, of which roughly two are up.

On the flipside, it is difficult to see Al Haymon relinquishing control of PBC. More than likely Haymon would stay in charge of the PBC wing and Endeavor would serve as a cash cow to keep what he has built going.

Haymon must stay aboard for another reason, though few will say it. The reason is ethnicity. If Haymon is left out, that would basically leave Leonard Ellerbe and his boss Floyd Mayweather Jr as the only prominent African-American promoters in boxing and that would not be a healthy situation.

Premier Boxing Champions has a diverse group of fighters among the over 200 pugilists under contract. Some are African-American as are many of Haymon’s key employees and associates. Frankly, at least a portion of those fighters and employees would not feel the same comfort level they have with Haymon if Emanuel, a member of an influential Jewish family (his brother is former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel) and Vegas power broker White were abruptly substituted.

Another effect on the PBC model is on the promotional end. Haymon has cobbled together a group of promoters that operate regionally under his PBC umbrella. The model that Endeavor brings with the UFC will have a more centralized approach to promotion. How will the new owners deal with Lou DiBella in NY, James Leija and Mike Battah in Texas, and Tom Brown in California? Throw in the aforementioned Ellerbe and Mayweather, who operate primarily in Vegas but also in the Washington DC and Baltimore area. How will the promoters who work with the PBC see their relationship change if Haymon left and Dana White was in charge?

Haymon has built the PBC over the years into a big business. He has the PBC on FOX and Showtime whereas the UFC, which previously partnered with FOX, now has a long-term deal with ESPN. This suggests that if a deal is made, PBC and the UFC will have to operate as completely separate entities under the same umbrella, at least for the foreseeable future. And even that might be further away from happening than most people realize.

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