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How oleksandr usyk conquered the world

Written by: Sean Crose

“Those days are gone,” Steely Dan he once said, “a long time ago.” So we believe that the heavyweight boxing division is no longer the “big man division.” Now it was the “top” category, which included men who could pass for NBA players rather than traditional boxers. We were told that the heavyweights of the past could not compete with the bulls of today. Then came Oleksandr Usyk, who became the first world heavyweight champion in twenty-five years this past weekend. Usyk, who stands at 6’3, defeated the 6’9 Tyson Fury in a 12-round fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Fury, however, wasn’t the only heavyweight Usyk lost on his way to an undisputed victory. Over the past three years, he has defeated the 6’6 Anthony Joshua not once, but twice. In other words, Usyk has earned the opportunity to become the undisputed king of the heavyweight division. Of course, before he became the undisputed heavyweight champion, the undefeated Ukrainian was the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world – in the full sub-heavyweight division. However, how did Usyk become the hero he is now – a legitimate player all along?

The truth is that Usyk has a skill set like few others. He applies pressure that keeps slipping, back and fourth while firing with enough power to put a giant like Fury down on the mat. He is also unusually focused. Just looking at Usyk’s face when the referee gave the instructions on Saturday, one could see how zero the man was. Even as Fury looked at the googly eyes, Usyk continued to stare at the strange Englishman, like a man on a journey. That combination of skill and unpredictability has proved dangerously successful for Usyk in 22 of 22 fights now.

In the end, however, it was more than his skill and focus that led Usyk to where he sits at the top of the sport. Simply put, determination is what led Usyk to conquer the world. It might be easy to forget soon but there were more than a few moments on Saturday when Usyk looked like Fury’s bag. Sure enough, in the middle of the battle Fury looked like he was going to win. He was also showing that he can touch Usyk with his shots.

Still, Usyk kept grinding, and kept moving forward, even when it began to appear that the outcome of the fight was going to be a foregone conclusion. And it happened. Usyk’s punches and anger took a toll. At nine o’clock, Fury was on the meta. After the 12th Fury he was handed his first loss. Usyk had won the night, and the heavyweight division, and he had done so with inner determination. All praise the Lord.

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