By: Sean Crose
I can’t say I ever imagined Oleksandr Usyk being one of the two last men standing in the post-Klitschko heavyweight era. If you had asked me, say, three years ago who I thought would end up King of the Heavies, I would have said Deontay Wilder. His peers, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, were very good, I felt, but not good enough to deal with Wilder’s explosiveness. How wrong I was. I can’t be too hard on myself about this, however, for who ever imagined that in 2022 former cruiserweight kingpin Oleksandr Usyk would be in possession of three of the four major title belts in the division?
Boxing is nothing if not the theater of the unexpected, and now the most unlikely of heavyweight title throwdowns appears on the verge of becoming reality. With Wilder losing twice to Fury and Joshua losing twice to Usyk, there’s only two claimants left for heavyweight supremacy – Fury and Usyk. They’re a strange pairing, this towering Englishman and quirky Ukrainian. Just imagining the 6’9 Fury fighting in the ring against the 6’3 Usyk leads to images that can best be described as awkward. While the trilogy Fury fought against Wilder was a clash of the titans, a Fury-Usyk match might turn out to be a battle of skill sets. It’s not a bad thing, really, though it’s hard to imagine a fight between these two being thrilling. Then again…
The truth is that, no matter how a Fury-Usyk bout would turn out, it’s a fight that needs to be made. An older – and former – fight fan complained to me recently that he no longer knows who the heavyweight champion of the world is. That’s because there IS no heavyweight champion. Rather there are two major belt holders. It’s time to put this confusing and frustrating era of division to end. It’s time for one heavyweight, Tyson or Usyk, to rule them all. If there’s one thing contemporary boxing needs it’s clarity, and a single heavyweight champion, a direct descendant of a line that got its start in the early 1890s, would go a long way to helping the sport.
The good news, of course, is that both Fury and Usyk appear to be ready, willing and able to make this fight a reality. The question of who would emerge victorious is a tough one to answer, frankly, but it would be satisfying to find out. Hopefully we’ll find out sooner rather than later.