Oleksandr Usyk
Oleksandr Usyk’s Hall of Fame case is beyond cemented | Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images

Oleksandr Usyk’s Hall of Fame case is beyond cemented after his win over Tyson Fury.

If there was a single remaining doubt that Oleksandr Usyk deserved to be a true blue, bona fide, first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires from the sport of boxing — and there shouldn’t have been — that ended today, when he became undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in his win over Tyson Fury.

Usyk, 33, added to his list of achievements and accolades with another outstanding performance, and made his own very clear case to be called the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world today. It’s not taking anything away from Naoya Inoue or Terence “Bud” Crawford; if it was a two-man race before, it is a three-man race now. These are genuine great fighters, all of them.

World Amateur champion, Olympic gold medalist, undisputed cruiserweight world champion, undisputed heavyweight world champion. Oleksandr Usyk is, simply, special. All-time special.

As for Tyson Fury, the great big guy lost to the great “little” guy. He was flat out-boxed for too much of the fight, though one judge did have him a 114-113 winner, which is seven to five in rounds for Fury, counting the eighth round knockdown against him.

A rematch actually seems totally welcome for once. There’s no real burning need to see Usyk face an “improved” Anthony Joshua for a third time, as he’s beaten Joshua clearly twice already, and Joshua’s the next name in line at the moment. Usyk vs Fury 2 won’t be as big as this fight, but there’s plenty of angle there — Fury’s revenge, Usyk looking to prove it was no “fluke” or “robbery” which the Fury camp can be expected to frame it as in the coming hours, days, weeks, and months.

And it was a damn good fight, period. We saw two terrific professionals on their game playing the tactics with one another, momentum shifts and stellar boxing all around, not something you get a ton of in the heavyweight division of the last 20, 30, 40 years, pick whatever timeframe you like best that least insults your childhood memories.

Elsewhere on the card:

Jai Opetaia really does appear to be the clear best cruiserweight in the sport today, even if his rematch win over Mairis Briedis wasn’t exactly one for the highlight reels. If he stays at cruiserweight, the biggest fight would be against the Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe winner. If he doesn’t, then he’ll have to take his time smartly adding weight to move up to heavyweight. On the Briedis side, it’s a question of whether he fights again at all. He was tough and in shape and all that, but has he done all he’s going to do? Probably, so that leaves the question of what more purpose he has to keep going.

Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk - Kingdom Arena
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Anthony Cacace will get some criticism for the punch on the break that seemed to be the root undoing of Joe Cordina, but Cacace leaves with the IBF super featherweight title, his first real, recognized world title win, and in an upset. There’s a decent argument for these two to run it back, and you have to think Cacace would be confident of repeating the success because he put a beating on Cordina for the most part here. I don’t think you can put it all on the one shot knocking Cordina out of sorts.

What a breakout run in Saudi Arabia for Agit Kabayel, huh? You have to be willing to admit that Frank Sanchez did look hindered due to some sort of knee injury, but Kabayel’s style and body-focused attack is so refreshing for the heavyweight division, as is his lack of interest in participating in lame, laid-out “trash talk” and loud call-outs. The man shows up, wins, and is happy to have put on a show, looking for the next challenge that will come. He’s becoming one of the sport’s most likable fighters, and knocking out Sanchez was a statement, even if you put a small asterisk for the knee.

Robin Safar didn’t exactly look like a serious emerging cruiserweight contender in his win over a badly faded, 41-year-old Sergey Kovalev, but he got the win and, as one commentator put it, might be headed toward something he can’t handle as a result. Kovalev is a shadow of the man who once ruled the light heavyweight division, and by the middle rounds looked like he didn’t much care to be there at all, but was trying to poke and survive his way to a win. Didn’t happen. Kovalev also got dropped hard late in the 10th and final round. Kovalev is done, and I’d suggest not getting too excited by Safar’s prospects, but yeah, this “big” win might get him a title fight or something.

Cruiserweight prospect David Nyika still has a lot to work on, which was evident despite how relatively easily he beat Michael Seitz. It was the sort of matchup where if Nyika is even two-thirds of what he’s hoped to be, it’d be easy, and it was, unless Seitz had been a true hidden gem, and he clearly wasn’t.

Neither lightweight Mark Chamberlain nor heavyweight Moses Itauma got a chance to really show much of anything, but they did their jobs, getting a TKO-1 and a TKO-2, respectively. The two men are at very different stages on their climbs up the ladder, but they’re doing the assignments as asked.

Author: Staff

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