Oleksandr Usyk stands out as a historically significant fighter, as he is a 2012 heavyweight Olympic gold medalist, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, and holds the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight world titles, as he only needs one more belt to become a four-belt undisputed heavyweight world champion. Oh, and minor details, Usyk has won all of his world titles on the road, often in his opponents' hometown to get the title.
Now add to this Usyk has fought a total of 20 professional bouts, fighting 168 rounds
Usyk returns this Saturday, August 26th, against Daniel Dubois, on a fight broadcast by ESPN+, in the United States.
Usyk won the World Boxing Super Series in 2018, which served as a tournament, that featured all of the cruiserweight world champions. Usyk, who won the WBO cruiserweight title in 2016 over Krzysztof Glowacki, successfully defended it against Marco Huck, before defeating the WBC cruiserweight world champion, Mairis Briedis, and concluded his year by winning a one-sided decision over the WBA and IBF cruiserweight world champion, Murat Gassiev, in Gassiev home country of Russia.
Usyk's fighting style is best known as a unique puzzle based on elite intelligence with athleticism. Combining a high ring IQ with fast feet Usyk is a once-in-a-generation talent. His transition from the cruiserweight division to the heavyweight division also adds to his historical significance, as only he and Evander Holyfield made the jump as smoothly.
In addition to his in-ring accomplishments, Usyk is also known for his humble nature. A monster in the ring, but a true sportsman outside, one could argue that Usyk might be a bigger star if he wasn't so humble. Which is a sad state of the era we live in.
Oleksandr Usyk's personality resembles that of a comic actor more so than your average prizefighter. Often known for his funny antics, quirky sense of humor, and charming demeanor, Usyk is far from being a fighter who takes himself too seriously. At one media event prior to a fight, Usyk famously misspoke and said "I am feel." This phrase and clip went viral and Usyk has since mocked it prior as a jest at himself.
Usyk's ability to playfully navigate language barriers and embrace his own linguistic style showcases his down-to-earth and relatable nature, as Usyk is a fighter who often jokes around and very rarely is someone who takes himself too seriously, albeit the conflict between his home country of Ukraine and Russia, seemed to wear on him for his last fight in which Usyk was more serious against Anthony Joshua in their rematch.
Beyond his linguistics and missteps with verbiage, Usyk's general approach to life and interviews further demonstrates a love for life. He is known to be goofy and silly, even to film training videos joking calling out his opponent in a silly voice. Recently at a press conference, Usyk started rapping unprovoked.
In the sport of boxing, often a lot of figures are too serious - Usyk is far from that.
Fight Against Dubois
Usyk will fight for the first time since defeating Anthony Joshua in back-to-back fights that saw him fight once a year in both 2021 and 2022. Since that time, somehow Joshua has gotten to fight two times, probably partially given that Usyk has been looking to land an undisputed heavyweight world title fight against Tyson Fury, who holds the only world title Usyk doesn't have which is the WBC heavyweight title.
Now in the eighth month of the year, Usyk returns to face his WBA mandatory challenger in Daniel Dubois, a British heavyweight boxer, once considered a top prospect until a brutal stoppage defeat at the hands of Joe Joyce. The bout which took place on November 28, 2020, saw Daniel Dubois suffer a significant injury to his left eye, as the bout was stopped in the 10th round of the bout. It was later learned the injury to Dubois' left eye turned out to be a fractured orbital bone, which most people know as a broken eye socket.
Since that fight, Dubois has ridden a rocky road back to the top of the division, as Dubois is riding a four-fight win streak, but was dropped in his December 2022 fight against Kevin Lerena, before getting a third-round stoppage that has many asking for more questions about the longevity of Dubois as an elite fighter.
Dubois has the height of a heavyweight at 6 feet 5 inches but has the same exact reach as Usyk at 78 inches. Despite being a 'big heavyweight', he has been labeled by some as undersized given that he doesn't have the enormous reach of say, Tyson Fury, who has an 85-inch reach.
The bout to the snide and bitter is a high-profile tune-up fight but only viewed as such given the greatness of Usyk. Usyk is currently viewed by ProBox TV News Staff as the third-best fighter in the world, and Dubois has never sniffed that conversation. Dubois is a good fighter, the problem is Usyk could very well be an all-time great fighter.
The fight provides Usyk, a chance to fight, and defend his world title, but also allows Dubois a chance to reinvent himself and create a new narrative around his career, as his eye injury has overshadowed a lot of his prior achievements. Usyk is not without flaws as Derek Chisora at times did have success against him as well.
An All-Time Great Waits On Fury
Usyk is walking in rarified air currently, as when you talk about cruiserweight greatness you can only mention two names - in the modern era. Usyk and Evander Holyfield.
Both set the bar high and raised. Holyfield had a great foe for when he moved up to heavyweight in Mike Tyson, who made him a household name - and Usyk is looking for that moment with Tyson Fury, or whoever else it might be.
Usyk has not appeared on U.S. television all that much, as he is a reluctant global superstar, who treats boxing as a sport, despite his funny antics.
Now comes the ugly.
Tyson Fury is fighting a human being named Francis Ngannou. He is an MMA fighter, he held the UFC heavyweight title, but he has never competed in boxing....and in his mid-30s. The bout with Fury and Ngannou will pray upon naive MMA fans beliefs that Ngannou will land 'a big punch.' It is happening, and will probably matter to some, but the annoying part is...Usyk and Fury have only so many fights left - and one of those fights is being wasted on an exhibition bout essentially.
Usyk is competing this weekend, but he has a limited time left in the sport. His sun is setting so to speak, and all that is left is either to keep defending his titles, a thankless job, or to try and become an undisputed champion.
Armed with Skills Challenge Promotions as his new promoter, which represents essentially the sporting interest of Saudi Arabia, it seems the goal is for Usyk to get a big fight in the future. Whether it is Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder - Usyk seems to be looking for that last 'big fight', before riding off as a great modern cruiserweight, who was so good he took the promotion to heavyweight and continued his dominance.