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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Latest Boxing News & Rumors Today / I’ll just say it – Oleksandr Usyk is a very good fighter

I’ll just say it – Oleksandr Usyk is a very good fighter

Publish Date: 05/22/2024
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

Not great.

I hold that word in high regard and use for only a select few.

Think Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis.

Against Tyson Fury, Usyk was behind on the scorecards through six rounds. Catching the elusive and awkward Fury was proving to be more than challenging. A couple of Fury uppercuts appeared to buzz him.

Fury’s bodywork unnerved him.

It didn’t look good. Fury had found his rhythm. What was Usyk to do?

Dig deep – something he had done his entire boxing career. Usyk was searching, but his grit and determination never left him. This alone could be his most effective attribute.

Usyk began his amateur career as a middleweight in 2005. Seven years later, he had qualified to fight in the Olympics in the heavyweight division. He captured gold by beating, among others, Artur Beterbiev. Usyk was 26 when he turned professional.

He was fast-tracked to a title fight in his 10th bout, winning the WBO cruiserweight championship by a decision over tough Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland.

Traveling man Usyk stopped Marco Huck in Germany, and then traversed to Rigo in 2018, edging Mairis Briedis. That win earned Usyk a spot in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in Russia against hometown hero Murat Gassiev. Usyk outfoxed and outfought Gassiev for 12 rounds, winning a wide decision.

Mr. Usyk went to London next, knocking out Bellow in round eight. Usyk gained 17 pounds and moved up to the heavyweight division. He won two fights but didn’t wow anybody. Several boxing people figured a bigger man would topple him. WBO,

Enter Anthony Joshua, holder of the WBA, IBF, and IBO heavyweight title belts. Usyk’s bobbing, feinting, and weaving kept Joshua thinking. Usyk piled up the points and almost stopped the big man in the last round. A rematch went down 11 months later. Joshua did better, but Usyk prevailed again by staying consistent and utilizing his strengths.

Usyk defended his titles against Daniel Dubois in 2023, prevailing by a stoppage in an uneven performance.

WBA champion Tyson Fury was next. Fury had not looked good in his last fight. Over the hill said many. An overcooked comment, something routine in boxing.

Fury was undefeated in 34 fights. He’s a freakish heavyweight, fleet of foot and tall – standing 6-foot-9 inches. He can punch when he sets his mind to it. Ask Deontay Wilder. Fury was slightly favored as he danced his way to the ring. He was in shape and ready and, as always, looked with confidence.

Usyk glared at him from across the ring. Their weigh-in had been acrimonious. Usyk said, “Don’t be afraid. I won’t leave you alone.”

For 12 rounds, Usyk did not leave Fury alone. He pursed, ate some wicked counterblows, and kept moving forward. His payoff came in round nine when he caught his foe with a whipping combination that turned Fury’s legs into Jello.

There it was. Though losing, Usyk found the will to rally and win. All the hard work had paid off.

“Nine months I worked,” said Usyk. “I missed Happy New Year; I missed my son’s birthday; I missed my other son’s birthday; I missed my daughter’s birthday; I missed my daughter’s birth. My focus was only this fight.

“Now I’m happy. I want to go back home, go to my church, pray, say, ‘Jesus, thank you’

You’ve earned it, Oleksandr.

 

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