Everything you need to know about the reigning IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight champion of the world Oleksandr Usyk.
|28th September, 1987
|Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
|Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
|21-0 (14 KOs)
|Tyson Fury (18th May)
A decorated amateur career can lead to a false assumption that success in the professional ranks will automatically follow.
Thankfully, just like his fighting compatriot Vasyl Lomachenko, Usyk adapted expertly.
After just nine pro bouts Usyk comprehensively defeated Krzysztof Glowacki to win his first cruiserweight world title in September 2016.
The WBO champion needed just two years to clean up the division beating the likes of Thabiso Mchunu, Marco Huck and then Mairis Briedis to become unified champion.
Then came not only the biggest fight of his career but an opponent who many believed to be his biggest threat to date.
On July 21, 2018, Oleksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev doubled up as a fight for the undisputed cruiserweight championship and the final of the division’s World Boxing Super Series tournament.
Road warrior Usyk had already displayed his metal agreeing to fight Gassiev in Russia.
Having been pushed all the way against Mairis Briedis in the semi-final taking on an undefeated heavy-hitting Russian in his own country looked a tall order.
Usyk made a mockery of those who backed against him delivering a one-man show from the away corner.
Scores of 119-109 (twice) and 120-108 were an accurate reflection on a night where Usyk ensured that the second-best cruiserweight in the world may as well have been the tenth such was the gulf between the two.
The quirky Usyk earned himself a UK pay-per-view payday four months later when he waltzed into Manchester to defend his crown against Tony Bellew.
Having earned a few quid by beating David Haye twice Bellew wanted to challenge himself against one of the very best fighters in the world.
Bellew’s pre-fight mind games didn’t lay a glove on Usyk and on fight night the champion delivered a brutal finish in the eighth round to sign off from 200lbs division.
Becoming a two-weight world champion was now very much on his mind.
The heavyweight division has featured many giants in the 21st century.
Height and weight have made the likes of Lennox Lewis and Tyson Fury look like super-heavyweights.
Usyk is no miniature himself though standing at 6ft 3ins but would have to rely greater than ever on his ring IQ and movement to become a force at heavyweight.
In 2019 Usyk dipped his toes in the division with a win over Chazz Witherspoon. The 27lbs difference was of no matter but the Ukrainian’s performance didn’t fill observers with confidence about his future.
Against Derek Chisora on Halloween 2020 Usyk had to deal with the rushing tactics of a British bull who looked to unsettle his gifted guest at Wembley Arena.
Thirty-eight pounds was the difference that night but after a sticky start Usyk adapted and began picking Chisora off and earned himself a unanimous decision.
Beating Witherspoon and Chisora wasn’t concrete proof that Usyk could then go on and beat a genuine world-class heavyweight and unified champion like Anthony Joshua.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium played host to their first encounter and the stadium crowd witnessed an Usyk masterclass.
The argument of size matters beforehand played little part in what followed - Usyk outwitted Joshua who attempted to play chess with a grand master.
The heavyweight division had a new superpower after Usyk ran out a comfortable winner on points.
Eleven months on from their first bout in September 2021 Usyk and Joshua travelled to the Middle East to tangle once again thanks largely to a rematch clause.
Joshua was quicker, sharper, and crucially landed some hurtful shots on Usyk.
Going into the final three rounds the fight was up for grabs, but Usyk produced the goods when great champions normally do and rallied to defy Joshua and win a split decision.
The win for Oleksandr Usyk was expected but no-one could have imagined the Ukrainian’s victory would be overshadowed by controversy.
For the nine rounds the fight lasted the unified champion was the superior fighters. Usyk’s jab, hand speed, combinations, and power shattered Dubois’ dreams of following in the footsteps of Bruno, Lewis, Fury and many more. The 25-year-old Brit tried as he could and arguably performed better than predicted but still lost every round.
However, the events of round five have left a few questions lingering in the air. Dubois landed a crushing blow to Usyk’s mid-section which was deemed a low blow by referee Luis Pabon. But was it below the belt? Arguments have been made for and against but after being hurt to the body by Anthony Joshua in their rematch last year it now looks like the great Usyk has a weakness.
Putting the drama of the low blow to one side Dubois had already tagged the same area before and after causing Usyk discomfort. The 36-year-old survived and used nearly all the allotted five minutes to recover in round five. For all the outcry that followed in the aftermath what can’t be forgotten is Usyk outclassed Dubois for the majority of the contest.
Usyk and WBC title holder Tyson Fury have previously struggled to agree a deal to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship, but things have since, thankfully, changed!
Earlier last year it had a looked at one stage that the two men would fight in April 2023, but negotiations fell apart with blame being thrown from both sides leading to pointless social media posts.
Since then, ‘The Gypsy King’ says there have been no suitable challengers so instead opted to face, and defeat, UFC champion Francis Ngannou.
After his controversial win in the Middle East, details were announced that an undisputed dust-up between Fury and Usyk would indeed finally take place, with Saturday February 17th, 2024 confirmed as the big date.
However, another spanner was thrown into the works just two weeks shy of fight night with news surfacing that Fury had suffered a 'freak injury' in sparring, meaning the showdown has been moved back three months to Saturday 18th May.
The Ukrainian's net worth is reported to be $4 million dollars.
Fights involving Oleksandr Usyk have been regularly shown in the UK over the last five years.
The unification bout with Fury is likely to be shown on TNT Sport Box Office, Sky Box Office and DAZN.
Anatoly Lomachenko, the father of three-weight world champion Vasiliy, is the current trainer of the three-belt heavyweight world champion.
Usyk will tackle Tyson Fury in a battle for undisputed in Saudi Arabia on Saturday 18th May, 2024.