With so much talk going on about the heavyweights these days, one may who may be overlooked when discussing the division is a champion who has yet to fully campaign there.
On May 25th, unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk will make his heavyweight debut against a very formidable opponent in Carlos Takam. The fight is lined up to stream on the DAZN app and will take place from the MGM National Harbor in Oxon, Hill, Maryland. Sky Sports will also be airing the action for UK audiences.
What Usyk did at cruiserweight was legendary in some regards, as he not only captured the World Boxing Super Series Ali Trophy, but unified the IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO titles. Along the way he grabbed victories over Murat Gassiev, Michael Hunter, Mairis Briedis, Marco Huck, and most recently Tony Bellew.
What will Usyk’s first test at heavyweight be like? For one, Carlos Takam is a very rugged and tough man. He’s gone to battle against the like of Anthony Joshua, Alexander Povektin, Dereck Chisora, and Joseph Parker, and despite coming short in those contests, he has always went deep into fights while showing how rugged he is. Takam also holds victories over Senad Gashi and Tony Thompson.
If there is one thing you can question about Usyk moving up in weight, it is how he will handle the size and power of the big hitters above 200 pounds. At 6’3” he would be the smaller man against the likes of Joshua, the IBF, WBA, and WBO champion, as well as Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, and former lineal champion Tyson Fury.
In Takam you can expect Usyk to put his boxing skills on display and he’s ready for the challenge.
“May 25 marks a major moment in my career when I move to the Heavyweight division,” said Usyk. “At Cruiserweight I did it all and became the undisputed champion and that is my goal now in the Heavyweights. This is the ultimate challenge and it begins on May 25 against Carlos Takam. It’s a tough first fight but I need to test myself against World class opposition on my new road to undisputed.”
Takam knows well this could be a major chance to play the role of the spoiler and he’s eyeing an upset.
“Usyk has achieved everything in the Cruiserweight division,” Takam said. “I am ready to welcome him to the new world of Heavyweight boxing. I can promise that this will be a great fight and I will provide Usyk with a huge test on his Heavyweight debut. I have huge ambitions of my own in the division and this fight will provide me with the chance to prove that.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing helped sign Usyk to a co-promotional pact that will see his future fights air on DAZN and he clearly has to be considering him as a possible foe for Joshua at some point.
“The time has come for the ultimate challenge for Oleksandr Usyk,” said Hearn. “This pound-for-pound star had dominated the Cruiserweight division becoming undisputed champion after just 15 fights. Now he takes the daring leap to the land of the giants as he attempt to repeat his achievements in the Heavyweight division.
“Takam is the perfect test for the Heavyweight debut,” Hearn added. “A big strong, all action fighter who will welcome Usyk into the fold with a heavy arsenal – be ready for fireworks on May 25! I’m delighted to promote this outstanding fighter in America as DAZN start a magical period of Canelo vs. Jacobs, Usyk vs. Takam, Joshua vs. Miller and the return of GGG all in the space of two months – don’t miss it!”
May 25th will go a long way towards telling us what Usyk really can bring to the heavyweight table yet the real question is whether or not he can capture full gold in the division. That would surely mean having to notch some kind of victory over Joshua, Wilder or Fury.
He can definitely match up to the men with his skills but there are plenty of questions abound, such as how he would deal with Joshua’s strength, Wilder’s crippling power, or Fury’s size and boxing style.
It’s a mystery for now but we can’t wait to find out the answers.
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