Oleksandr Usyk is now fighting taller, bigger, heavier men – or is he? His statistics prove that he is already the right size to be a heavyweight danger-man.
Undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk debuts in the top division on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports Action at 2am, and will display his new physique at Friday’s weigh-in.
Previously restricted to a 14st 4lbs (200lbs) limit, Usyk’s first heavyweight weigh-in will tell us much about how he will approach his new goal of becoming just the third boxer ever to become world champion in the biggest two divisions.
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Comparing vital statistics
The long-term target for Usyk’s assault on the heavyweight division has been Joshua, who aims to regain his world titles from Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Like Ruiz Jr, Usyk has a major height and reach disadvantage on Joshua. But Usyk does not believe Joshua has trouble against smaller opponents.
“I don’t think that’s the reason [that Joshua lost to Ruiz Jr],” Usyk previously told Sky Sports.
“There is a general problem that takes place. It doesn’t matter whether your opponent is tall or short. It doesn’t matter whether you fight a 2m tall guy, or a 1.80m guy.”
He also warned Joshua: “I would love to do the same thing that happened in the ring.”
Andy Ruiz Jr
It is against opponents like the reigning IBF, WBA and WBO champion that Usyk will look like a natural heavyweight at first glance. He is an inch taller with a significant reach advantage.
But Ruiz Jr is among the heaviest of the big men, clocking above 19st before he beat Joshua. That’s probably three stone more than Usyk will be. Ruiz Jr’s usage of his weight allows him to punch hard, and this is the world that Usyk is now entering.
Usyk is the mandatory challenger to the WBO belt and expects to fight for it next year.
The WBC champion’s statistics provide Usyk with the opposite problems to Ruiz Jr. Wilder is one of the lighter heavyweights, below 16st last time out, and three stone lighter than Tyson Fury when they fought. So Usyk would be a very similar weight to the reigning heavyweight champion.
But Wilder’s height and long arms are his X-factor – he is significantly longer than Usyk and would expect to crash his right hand home, as he always does. Would Usyk have the speed to deal with that?
The biggest of the big men – the giant Fury is the tallest, with the longest reach, and often the heaviest of his peers. He slimmed down to above 18st last time out but, in every way, he is a lot bigger than Usyk. Throw in his slippery style, similar to Usyk’s, and he resembles a bigger version of the Ukrainian.
Lessons from the past
Evander Holyfield and David Haye are the only boxers to be cruiserweight and heavyweight world champions. They both have identical height and reach with Usyk (6’3” and 78”).
“I never bulked up to the division, I just did not cut weight,” Haye told Sky Sports.
Haye weighed-in at 15st 8lbs before becoming heavyweight champion against Nikolai Valuev, who was seven stone heavier. He was 15st 2lbs then 15st before his fights with Wladimir Klitschko and Derek Chisora respectively, and was two stone lighter than his opponent on both occasions. For better or worse, Haye embraced being lighter and quicker.
Holyfield, before Haye, weighed-in less than 15st when he became heavyweight champion against Buster Douglas in 1990 and was below 16st when he beat Mike Tyson. Holyfield then gave up two stones in weight, two inches in height and six inches of reach when he lost to Lennox Lewis.
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