Boxing Pound for Pound Rankings: Can Oleksandr Usyk have the same success at heavyweight?
Plus, some big names are moving in the wrong direction in our latest rankings
In a statement that was nothing short of spectacular on Saturday,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.
|1. Vasiliy Lomachenko||11-1, 9 KOs||Light, junior lightweight champion||--|
|Lomachenko enters yet another unification bout at 135 pounds against WBO champion Jose Pedraza. But how much longer will he stay at the weight class? With skills this sublime, it's more likely he will go where the talent and money is. |
|2. Oleksandr Usyk||16-0, 12 KOs|| Undisputed cruiserweight champion|
The Bellew victory gave Usyk a bit of the crossover U.S. recognition he deserved but never received after winning the WBSS tournament. Lucky for him, co-promoter Eddie Hearn has access to a group of fun names to begin his heavyweight transition. With once-in-a-generation skill for a big man, it's not so easy to count him out.
|3. Terence Crawford||34-0, 25 KOs||Welterweight champion|
|There's more than a strong argument to make for Crawford as best in the world considering his current run of dominance. But with just about all of the big-name welterweights operating "across the street" politically, it may be hard for "Bud" to definitively prove it. |
|4. Canelo Alvarez||50-1-2, 34 KOs||Unified middleweight champion|
|Say what you will about whether you believed he deserved the decision against Gennady Golovkin in their fall rematch, Alvarez fought like he was the bigger man and bigger puncher. He's a bonafide superstar who can back it up in the ring and now has plenty of middleweight competition awaiting him after signing with DAZN.|
|5. Mikey Garcia||39-0, 30 KOs||Lightweight|
|After vacating his titles at 135 and 140 pounds over the past year, Garcia is ready for a dare-to-be-great opportunity at welterweight against fellow unbeaten Errol Spence Jr. This is the kind of challenge so dangerous that could solidify Garcia as P4P king with a victory in such a high-risk fight. |
|6. Errol Spence Jr.||24-0, 21 KOs||Welterweight champion|
|Unable to lure division contemporaries like Crawford, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter into fights this winter, Spence took the next-best challenge available in Garcia, who will rise up two divisions to face him. Forget the size difference, Garcia's talent alone makes this a valuable test for Spence. |
|7. Gennady Golovkin||38-1-1, 34 KOs||Middleweight|
It's hard to penalize GGG too much by having him slide off the P4P rankings consider most thought he was victorious in both fights against Alvarez. Either way, Glolovkin has shown hints of age catching up at 36.
|8. Nayoa Inoue||17-0, 15 KOs||Junior bantamweight champion|
|The Japanese "Monster" continues to ravage the smaller weight divisions after winning three titles in as many divisions. His move up to bantamweight for the WBSS tournament began with a devastating knockout of Juan Carlos Payano in October. |
|9. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai||47-4-1, 41 KOs||Junior bantamweight champion|
| The 115-pound king followed up his emphatic victories over former P4P king Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez in 2017 with three more this calendar year, including a close decision win over Juan Francisco Estrada in their fight-of-the-year candidate. SSR is as tough and determined a fighter as there is in the game today. |
|10. Anthony Joshua||22-0, 21 KOs||Unified heavyweight champion|
|It's time for the three-belt champion of the sport's glamour division to get the respect he deserves after a pair of victories over Joseph Parker in their March unification bout and dangerous veteran Alexander Povetkin. One thing AJ has shown is constant improvement to his poise, technique and ring IQ despite some focusing too much on his lack of one-sided dominance. |
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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