Michael Hunter believes Oleksander Usyk will have a hard time getting big-money fights now that he’s campaigning as a heavyweight. He sees the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) as a crafty finesse fighter, and those types of heavyweights tend to be avoided.
Usyk is comparable to heavyweights like Chris Byrd and Jimmy Young from bygone eras, and those guys were known for their ability to spoil and make fights ugly.
With that said, Usyk hasn’t had to do anything to earn a title shot at heavyweight, as he’s been made the WBO mandatory because of a rule with that sanctioning body that allows champions to move up in weight and be given an automatic mandatory spot.
As such, unless Usyk loses his next fight against Joe Joyce, he could fight for the WBO title or be elevated to that spot in 2022 if the current WBO champion Anthony Joshua vacates his belt.
The only question is, will Usyk be avoided if he picks up the WBO title? He might be avoided by Joshua and Tyson Fury. Still, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn will likely steer his heavyweights like Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker, Dereck Chisora, and Filip Hrgovic in his direction.
“I think that it’s going to be very hard for Usyk to get heavyweight fights,” said Hunter to Sky Sports.
“Nobody is going to really respect him. He’s not going to get those big fights.”
If Usyk can fight against Joshua or Fury, he won’t need to worry about money. The payday that Usyk will receive fighting AJ or Tyson will set him up for life, so it won’t be a big deal if the other top heavyweights avoid him.
Assuming Usyk gets his hands on the WBO heavyweight title, he can make good money as a belt-holder. It doesn’t matter that Usyk will be viewed as the weakest link and a paper champion by some.
He’ll still make a lot of money holding down the WBO belt, fighting the flawed contenders ranked in the top 15 by the World Boxing Organization.
“Another thing I think he’s going to have a problem with in [the heavyweight division] is people want to see [fighters] getting knocked out and coming off the canvas,” said Hunter about Usyk’s lack of power.
“He doesn’t do any of that or have any of those components. I thought the Joe Joyce fight was probably the good route for him. The only route I can see him actually going,” said Hunter.
Usyk was a boring fighter at cruiserweight, and he seems to be the same guy at heavyweight now that he’s moved up. The power will never be there for Usyk, no matter how hard he tries to increase it.
Evander Holyfield moved up from cruiserweight in the 1980s, and his power was still formidable at heavyweight. However, that was before the division was filled with 250+ lb monsters like today.
The heavyweights during Holyfield’s era were mostly guys that would fit in the cruiserweight division today. The ones with a lot of size, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, and George Foreman, all gave Holyfield problems.