Undefeated Ukrainian southpaw Oleksandr Usyk 16-0 (12) is ready to set the heavyweight division on fire.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion will make his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago on Saturday night.
“Outside of Anthony Joshua he is the biggest star in boxing,” said promoter Eddie Hearn at the final press conference, according to Sky Sports. “There is no barrier of language to genius.
“The pressure is there on him to win and maintain that mandatory status. Can he deal with the big guys? Can he compete in the heavyweight division?”
Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas said: “On Saturday when the bells ring, make a note of the best heavyweight in the division, Oleksandr Usyk. The baddest man on the planet!”
His co-promoter Alex Krassyuk added: “We think Usyk is the man to bring heavyweight boxing to a completely new level.”
Usyk was scheduled to face Tyrone Spong until the Miami-based boxer failed a drugs test and Witherspoon stepped in as a late replacement this week.
“I was willing to step up and accept the challenge. I’m at a point in my career where it makes sense to step up,” Witherspoon said.
“This is a great opportunity. Opportunity knocks every once in a while and you have to open the door and say: ‘Who is it?’
“He’s a skilful fighter, a great champion with all the accolades in the world. I’m looking to put on a good performance.
“I won’t act the fool, but I am the guy who will show up to rumble. I’m not scared. You can’t be scared. I’m here, I’m ready to fight.
“I’m the bigger guy, I’m willing to mix it up and anything can happen.
“One time in my life, I made history. I was the only guy to have all stoppages in the national Golden Gloves [amateur] tournament. Lightning has struck one time, and I’m looking for it to strike twice.”
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