Oleksandr Usyk didn’t look good in his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon on October 12, according to IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. He saw a fighter with an unbeaten record that failed to bring what little power he had from the cruiserweight division up with him to contend in the heavyweight division. Usyk weighed just 215 pounds for the Witherspoon, and he wasn’t strong at that weight. He was like another Chris Byrd in terms of power.
Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) and Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) could soon be facing each other in 2020 depending on how things go with Andy’s rematch with former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) on December 7 in Saudi Arabia. Usyk is the WBO mandatory at heavyweight, courtesy of the World Boxing Organization, who gave him the #1 spot based off of what he’d done at cruiserweight.
Ruiz: Usyk DIDN’T look good and he didn’t carry his power up
“He’s a great fighter and boxer. I didn’t think he looked too good in his first fight [at heavyweight],” said Ruiz about Usyk during his press conference in San Diego “I didn’t think he carried his power too much for someone who hasn’t fought for so long. I’m not discrediting the guy he beat, of course, but I think he could have done a lot better. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion … After I win Dec. 7, of course we’ll give him an opportunity to take one of my belts.”
It’s not just that Usyk lacked power in his debut against 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon, it was also how easily he was hit by the older fighter, and how marked up he was at the end. Usyk’s face looked like nine miles of bad road at the end of the fight, and he was only hit a handful of times before badly out of shape Witherspoon exhausted himself after three rounds. The way that Usyk performed, he would have lost to a lot of the top contenders in the division. He doesn’t look like this is a good fit for him.
Usyk doesn’t want anymore warm-up fights at heavyweight
According to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, Usyk, 32, is satisfied with the amount of warm-ups he’s had at heavyweight, and he’s ready to challenge the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. fight on December 7th. Just why Usyk doesn’t want to take any additional tune-up matches is unknown. It would obviously be better for Usyk, and for the eventual promotion for a fight between him and Joshua or Ruiz. The only way it wouldn’t be a good idea for Usyk to take more warm-up fights is if he’s worried about losing.
You can’t blame him there. He looked infinitely beatable in his fight with Witherspoon. Usyk looked like a basic light hitting cruiserweight trying to fight at heavyweight, and it’s hard to imagine him going anywhere in the division. He’ll get the payday fight with the Joshua-Ruiz winner, but likely be crushed by them. Hearn will then have to figure out what to do with Usyk. Do you keep him at heavyweight or try and persuade him to move back down to cruiserweight?