In what will almost certainly be the most interesting and exciting cruiserweight world title fight of 2016, and possibly a FOTY candidate, period, WBO ruler Krzysztof Glowacki will meet mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk in the champion’s homeland of Poland on September 17th, ESPN.com reports. An absolutely fascinating, can’t-miss fight between two powerful and talented unbeaten fighters, Glowacki-Usyk is as close to a 50-50 fight as you could mention.
There was a time, as most fight fans probably remember, when the cruiserweight division – or junior heavyweight as the weight class was also known in its early days – was nothing much of interest to the average boxing fan. And to fighters themselves, the division was nothing more than a stopgap on the way to the glamour and big paydays of the heavyweight division. Not so today.
On December 8, 1979, the WBC held a title bout between Marvin Camel and Mate Parlov to anoint a champion in a new division called, “Cruiserweight.” Created to narrow the gap between light heavy weights and heavyweights, thedivision began in less – then – inaugural fashion when the two fighters fought to a draw. Though Camel would go on to win a rematch and later, also become the first IBF cruiserweight champion, what seemed like a logical idea never caught on with the public who were already turned off by emerging sanctioning bodies. Additional weight classes only added to the confusion (little did we know what we were in for with all of this idiotic “regular” and super” champion nonsense).
Boxing in 2015 had arguably its most memorable year in a long, long time.
Finally Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio fought. Wladimir Klitschko was dethroned. Serious contenders faced off and created some deserving champions and some modern greats further enhanced their reputations.
With 2015 having been such a great year for the sport, much is expected of 2016. With all major promoters now showing a willingness to put on the fights the fans want to see, this year may separate the good from the great. With this in mind, here are five boxers that could make huge waves in 2016.
In front of a packed house at the Sport Palace in the capital of Ukraine, undefeated #1 ranked cruiserweight contender Oleksandr Usyk, (9-0-0, 9KO’s) scored a seventh round stoppage of Pedro “El Reguilete” Rodriguez, 22-2-0 (19KO’s), on Saturday night. Defending his WBO Inter-Continental Cruiserweight Title for the fourth time, Usyk aggressively battled the Cuban from the opening bell, dropping him in the sixth stanza. Following a barrage of punches from the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, Rodriguez was sent to the canvas again in the seventh as the fight was waived off.
In an impressive display of punching power, unbeaten #2 World Boxing Organization cruiserweight contender Oleksandr Usyk (8-0, 8 KOs) smashed his opponent #15 WBO Johnny Muller (19-5-2, 13 KOs) in knocking him down twice en route to a 3rd round TKO on Saturday night in front of a huge crowd at the Palace of Sports in Kiev, Ukraine.
Usyk won the WBO Inter-Continental cruiser weight title and his 3rd place in the WBO rankings suggests a showdown with cruiser weight king Marco Huck (Muamer Hukić) in the near future. Tony Bellew and Krzytof Glowacki occupy the top two spots but getting past them should be a formality for Usyk.
A recent press release about the pro debut of Oleksandr Usyk (not Alexander) on Nov. 9 finally alerted some journalists that the cruiserweight Olympic champion had actually turned pro. He did that right after Vasyl Lomachenko singed with Top Rank. The two are team mates and close friends and they traveled to the US together to seek a deal with a premiere promotional company. Both are Olympic champions from the Ukraine and very competent boxers whose styles would need only minor tactical adjustments for them to cross over to the paid ranks. Conditioning should not be a problem for people who run the marathon distance as a part of their road work.
Lomachenko was in high demand and he put up an auction of sorts demanding a championship fight in his debut along with the financial terms. Apparently Top Rank beat the rest to the chase and attracted the diamond in the rough to their stable. A debut for a title was a pipe dream but the rest of the requirements may have been met.