If He Beats Fury… Is Oleksandr Usyk the Greatest Ever Cruiserweight to Have Jumped Up?

By James Slater - 05/16/2024 - Comments

As fight fans are aware, only three men have thus far in this great sport of ours been able to win gold at cruiserweight and at heavyweight: Evander Holyfield, David Haye, and Oleksandr Usyk. Many others have tried, but have failed.

It’s the biggest jump up in weight as far as the divisions go – from 200 pounds to, well, unlimited. This Saturday, former 200 pound champ Usyk will face Tyson Fury, who may well weigh around 270 pounds, with Usyk being around the 220 mark.

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So, if Usyk beats Fury, is he deserving of the distinction of being the greatest ever cruiserweight to have jumped up and won the ultimate prize, this the undisputed, four-belt heavyweight championship?

Usyk might already hold the distinction as being the best cruiser to have won heavyweight honours, at least in your opinion; what with the Ukrainian having scooped up three of the major belts at heavyweight, this after he had made history as the first man to win all four belts at 200 pounds.

But we cannot fail to remember the great things Holyfield did. And Holyfield had to make a bigger jump in many ways, as he left the cruiserweight limit that was 195 pounds. And don’t let it be said Holyfield didn’t have to face giants in his quest for heavyweight glory – Riddick Bowe, George Foreman, and Lennox Lewis all being big men, each of them outweighing Evander by around 40 or more pounds.

So, if Usyk does beat Fury, does he top Holyfield as the finest cruiserweight to have gone up and won all the belts (three of them in Holy’s day) at heavyweight? Maybe.

The third guy on the list, Haye, was also a fine cruiserweight, and he decisioned, and almost stopped (maybe, he for sure wobbled him like no other fighter managed) Nikolay Valuev to win a portion of the heavyweight crown. And that’s it. No other cruiser has managed to get his hands on a heavyweight world title. Moving up in weight can be tough, for any fighter, no matter how great they are. It’s often a real task taking punches from bigger men, as it’s hard making a dent in bigger men who are accustomed to taking heavier punches. Therefore, it’s not that hard to see why only three fighters have managed to make the leap from cruiserweight rule to heavyweight rule.

If Usyk wins on Saturday, does he eclipse all of Holyfield’s achievements or does he not? Talk about a tough question, this as we head into what promises to be a tough fight for both Usyk and Fury.

Some cruiserweights who tried their hand at heavyweight but ultimately failed:

Tomasz Adamek. A fine warrior, but one who was unable to topple the big men of the sport. Steve Cunningham, a Philly warrior who perhaps came closer than anyone has come to stopping Fury (this side of Deontay Wilder in their third fight, anyway), but was unable to win the big one, although Cunningham never got as far as challenging for a heavyweight title, with him losing to Vyacheslav Glazkov in a USBA heavyweight title bout.

Jean-Marc Mormeck, another superb cruiserweight, but one who was no match for Wladimir Klitschko. Vassiliy Jirov, perhaps an underrated cruiserweight great, who also tried his hand at heavyweight, but didn’t get a world title shot at the weight.

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