By Robert Addams: Oleksandr Usyk will be making his heavyweight debut next Saturday on DAZN against Tyrone Spong at the Wintrust Arena, in Chicago, Illinois. Usyk’s promoter Eddie Hearn wants to prepare the former unified cruiserweight champion to possibly face the winner of the December 7th rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Usyk, 32, had planned on facing former world title challenger Carlos Takam (36-5-1, 28 KOs) for his heavyweight debut on May 25. But during training for the fight, Usyk suffered a bicep injury last May, and to pull out of the fight. They then rescheduled for September on DAZN, but then was cancelled too.
Oleksandr Usyk poised to get heavyweight world title shot
Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) is the World Boxing Organization mandatory at heavyweight despite never having fought in the weight class. The WBO allows for the Super Champion at cruiserweight to move up and become the immediate mandatory.
Usyk is moving up to go after bigger and better things in terms of money, and the world titles. Usyk’s last performance against Tony Bellew last year in October suggests that he may not have the punching power to compete against the bigger heavyweights.
The bicep injury, and time put into bulking up has led to Usyk missing a lot of action. Hearn isn’t matching him tough in his first fight, and that’s a positive for Usyk, because if he were to face a good contender at heavyweight, he might lose.
Usyk has to beat Spong to face Joshua-Ruiz rematch winner
“He should fight him next,” said Hearn to AB Boxing News about WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder saying to Sky Sports that Usyk is too small for him. “Usyk is the mandatory for the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz. rematch, but he’s got to beat Spong. It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to find out a lot about Usyk in the heavyweight division, and I believe he’s going to be a threat to all comers.
“You’ve got Usyk against Spong, and Bivol against Castillo. So it’s a big card in Chicago. It’s selling great. We should have 10,000 there. At the moment it’s a treading water fight, because at the moment you’ve got [IBF light heavyweight champion Artur] Beterbiev fighting [WBC 175-lb champion Oleksandr] Gvozdyk in a unification match. So we’ll have to see what happens after that. We’d [Bivol] like to fight the winner of that fight. We’ll see what happens with [WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey] Kovalev as well.
“Win or lose [against Saul Canelo Alvarez], that’s a big fight for Bivol. I don’t believe the British Boxing Board of Control would approve Jarrell Miller at this stage,” said Hearn when asked if ‘Big Baby’ Miller would be a good option to face Dereck Chisora on October 26 at the O2 Arena in London, UK. “It would be a bit too early depending on how that happens,” said Hearn.
Spong lacks experience in boxing
The 34-year-old Spong has a lot of punching power, but he has almost no experience in boxing against world class level fighters. Spong’s background is in kickboxing, and he’s not had the long amateur career in boxing that the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk has been blessed with.
It’s pretty clear that Hearn wants to make sure that Usyk doesn’t get beaten before fighting the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. fight. With Usyk being one of Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable fighters, it’s in his best interest that he gets a shot at fighting the Joshua-Ruiz winner. With Matchroom potentially having two of their own heavyweights facing each other, it’ll be a win-win situation if Usyk faces Joshua with 3 of the 4 titles on the line in 2020.
Dmitry Bivol vs. Lenin Castillo co-feature
In the co-feature bout on the Usyk-Spong card next Saturday, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11 KOs) defends against Lenin Castillo (20-2-1, 15 KOs). This is a difficult fight to understand, as Bivol is capable of beating much better than this.
Castillo is ranked rock bottom in the World Boxing Association’s rankings at #15, and has recent losses Marcus Browne and Joseph Williams. This is a step down for Bivol from his last four fights against Joe Smith Jr., Jean Pascal, Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba.
Sneaking into fight week like…🙈
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) October 6, 2019