Boxing Pound for Pound Rankings: Can Oleksandr Usyk have the same success at heavyweight?

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In a statement that was nothing short of spectacular on Saturday, Oleksandr Usyk brought to mind three important truths with his eighth-round TKO of Tony Bellew in England, which sent the beloved British star into retirement.

First, the native of Ukraine cemented himself as one of the truly special talents of this era, having risen from Olympic gold medalist to becoming the first to capture and defend all four recognized cruiserweight titles, all within the span of 16 pro fights. 

Secondly, Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) added himself to the short list of greatest fighters in the division's history thanks to a string of wins over top contenders, in his opponent's backyards, against Krzysztof Glowacki (Poland), Marco Huck (Germany), Mairis Briedis (Germany), Murat Gassiev (Russia) and now Bellew in Manchester. 

Finally, the 31-year-old Word Boxing Super Series tournament champion let it be known by his performance against Bellew (30-3-1, 20 KOs), himself fresh off a pair of knockouts over former titleholder David Haye, that he's not only ready for a similar assault on the heavyweight division but that it's not out of the question to consider Usyk a live dog at taking it over.

At a muscular 6-foot-3, the southpaw certainly has the size to be effective immediately, not to mention the speed, technique and creative in-ring abilities. While the jury will still be out as to the effectiveness of his chin and punching power on the heavyweight level until Usyk finally makes his debut, he's the kind of technical wizard who is capable of artistry fighters that size simply never see. 

Should anyone doubt whether this type of move would be an advisable one, look no further than the likes of Michael Spinks, Evander Holyfield, Chris Byrd and Haye -- all of whom faced similar concerns about size before eventually going on to claim heavyweight gold. Usyk is different in his own ways from every name in that illustrious group and might even be better in certain categories. 

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Usyk never wavered despite the crafty Bellew breaking his rhythm with stiff counter shots and stuck to his game plan of using angles to systematically break him down. Eventually, the knockout via 1-2 combination and a sweeping left hook was a thing of beauty. 

Having said before the bout that he believes he's "on the road to" unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, Usyk suddenly becomes a key and unexpected addition to the current renaissance within boxing's glamour division. Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury are all unbeaten, will all three likely to face off against each other in various ways within the next year, including the Wilder-Fury bout on Dec. 1 (Showtime PPV) in Los Angeles. 

It will likely take him a few tuneup fights in Europe to get used to the weight but now that he has signed a co-promotional deal with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, the same promoter of Joshua, it's not out of the question to consider both fighters are on a collision course of sorts toward a future showdown. It's equally in play that Usyk might find himself the last man standing when all is said and done. 

Dropped out: Leo Santa Cruz

Just missed: Jarrett Hurd, Donnie Nietes, Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Deontay Wilder, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Shawn Porter

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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