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Oleksandr Usyk-Thabiso Mchunu added to Hopkins-Smith undercard

Photo courtesy of K2 Promotions Ukraine

Newly crowned WBO cruiserweight beltholder Oleksandr Usyk will make his first title defense against Thabiso Mchunu on the undercard of the Bernard Hopkins-Joe Smith Jr. main event on Dec. 17 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, according to a press release from K2 Promotions, which represents the 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

The title bout will be part of the HBO Championship Boxing broadcast, which will also include a 10-round co-feature between unbeaten featherweight contender Joseph Diaz Jr. and Horacio Garcia.

Usyk (10-0, 9 knockouts), of Kiev, Ukraine, will be making his U.S. debut against Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs), a 28-year-old South Africa contender who has won seven of his last eight bouts and is one bout removed from a hotly contested 11th-round stoppage to Ilunga Makubu in a WBC title-elimination bout last May. Mchunu, a former NABF titleholder, holds victories over Eddie Chambers and Olanrewaju Durodola.

Usyk, THE RING’s No. 3-rated cruiserweight, is coming off his impressive title-winning decision over previously unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki on Sept. 17 in Gdansk, Poland.

“This is a great opportunity, I’m very excited to fight for the first time in the United States and on HBO,” Usyk stated in the K2 press release. “After winning the world title in September, fighting in America was the next goal and I promise the fans in Los Angeles and those watching on HBO a great performance.”

Said Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions, “We’re very happy to bring Oleksandr to the United States. He has drawn large crowds to his fights in Ukraine and there is much anticipation for him coming to America and to become the next boxing superstar. His entertaining, all-action style will be a thrill for fight fans at the Fabulous Forum and those watching on HBO. Having seen the Los Angeles fans’ reaction to both Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez’s fights at The Fabulous Forum with its rich boxing and entertainment history, this venue is a special place for star making performances.”

Stated Kathy Duva of Main Events, which promotes Mchunu, “Thabiso jumped at this opportunity the moment the offer was conveyed without hesitation. He is coming to win and it will be a great fight. I would also give all the credit in the world to Usyk for taking on such a tough challenge in his first defense of the title.”

The 29-year-old Usyk capped an extraordinary amateur career by winning Olympic gold in 201-pound division at the London Games in 2012. Signing with K2 Promotions, Usyk scored knockouts in his first nine bouts prior to breaking the cruiserweight record for fewest bouts before winning major title that was previously held by Evander Holyfield.