Friday, December 14, 2018  |

News

Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Usyk-Bellew, Usyk and Holyfield, Usyk vs. the heavyweights)

12
Nov

USYK IS VERY FEEL

Hey Doug,

Hope everything’s well, I’m currently on vacation on the other side of the world and thanks to the new streaming services I managed to watch the Usyk-Bellew on my phone while drinking a Bloody Mary with a wonderful view. That has to be the most convenient way to watch a fight. Love it! Welcome to the future!

The fight itself won’t be on my everyday morning schedule like say a Hagler-Hearns, but it certainly was intriguing from beginning to the spectacular end. Tony Bellew proved to be a puzzle and showed how much he has improved over the years, he definitely is a threat to anybody with a lower boxing IQ at the cruiser or heavy weight division. Against Usyk though, he was facing a master in his prime and after 7 closely contested rounds he got caught with a combination that was a little adjustment Olexander had figured out earlier in the previous round.

I found both fighters to be at the top of their game for this fight and they needed to be as neither of them was giving up an inch. As it turns out in these kind of fights, which by the way reminded me of Marquez-Casamayor, is the better technician and fresher fighter usually ends up with his hand raised in victory.

I’m really impressed by what Usyk has been able to accomplish in such short time. I remember the first time I saw him I was not impressed at all. Now he looks like the real deal (yes, I did that) in the cruiserweight division and might one day pose a serious threat to whoever ends up winning the Fury-Joshua-Wilder fights. I would make him a serious contender vs Joshua and Wilder, not Fury, as he is as good and awkward as any 6’9″ heavyweight ever.

As of now Usyk will remain feel, very feel, and without a doubt a top 3 p4p contender. Cheers from Bora Bora. – Juan Valverde

He’s currently No. 5 in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings. I won’t argue with anyone who thinks he should be higher, but I will point out that the boxers rated above him (his countryman and managerial stablemate Lomachenko, Crawford, Canelo and GGG) have been operating on the elite level for years, whereas Usyk basically emerged this year. And what an emergence it has been. Never mind his pound-for-pound status, Usyk is hands down the 2018 Fighter of the Year.

Unifying all four major 200-pound titles by outpointing Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev (winning the World Boxing Super Series tournament and earning The Ring cruiserweight championship in process) made Usyk the clear FOTY front-runner – knocking out Bellew was the clincher. (Come to think of it, that brutal eighth-round stoppage is probably in the running for KO of the Year.)

The fight itself won’t be on my everyday morning schedule like say a Hagler-Hearns, but it certainly was intriguing from beginning to the spectacular end. It was an intense chess match for six rounds – and I had it even to that point, scoring Rounds 2, 3 and 6 for Bellew – but Usyk was playing speed chess, and by Round 7 it was evident that the pace the Ukrainian southpaw set had worn down the bold British challenger.

I found both fighters to be at the top of their game for this fight and they needed to be as neither of them was giving up an inch. Bellew doesn’t come close to matching Usyk’s elite amateur background, athleticism and boxing acumen, but he had a level of world-class experience and ring smarts that was head and shoulders above the champ’s previous 15 pro opponents. That was enough to give Usyk problems during the first half of the fight (which didn’t come as a surprise to me).

As it turns out in these kind of fights, which by the way reminded me of Marquez-Casamayor, is the better technician and fresher fighter usually ends up with his hand raised in victory. That’s high praise for both Usyk and Bellew.

I’m really impressed by what Usyk has been able to accomplish in such short time. I remember the first time I saw him I was not impressed at all. I thought fans judged him too harshly after his first two U.S./HBO appearances (vs. Thabiso Mchunu and Michael Hunter). Mchunu was a former top-10 contender with a very difficult style, and Hunter was an unbeaten U.S. Olympian (who can flat-out fight). Both opponents were teak-tough (especially for one’s 11th and 12th pro bouts).

Now he looks like the real deal (yes, I did that) in the cruiserweight division and might one day pose a serious threat to whoever ends up winning the Fury-Joshua-Wilder fights. Hey, “The Feel” has paid the cost to be the boss. I think the same fans that wondered if he was overrated two years now welcome his foray into the heavyweight division.

I would make him a serious contender vs Joshua and Wilder, not Fury, as he is as good and awkward as any 6’9″ heavyweight ever. I agree that Fury is all wrong for Usyk, stylistically speaking, and all wrong for fans. Nothing would happen in that matchup. Usyk vs. AJ and Wilder, on the other hand, would be very interesting. (If a deal can’t be struck between Team AJ and the winner of Wilder-Fury next year, don’t be surprised if Joshua-Usyk is made; that’s primary reason Eddie Hearn singed the Ukrainian star to a co-promotional contract.)

I’m currently on vacation on the other side of the world and thanks to the new streaming services I managed to watch the Usyk-Bellew on my phone while drinking a Bloody Mary with a wonderful view. See, you know how to vacation. (I wish you could explain this concept to my wife.) 

That has to be the most convenient way to watch a fight. Love it! Welcome to the future! Nope, welcome to right now.

 

MYTHICAL MATCHUP

Hi Dougie,

Usyk v Holyfield at cruiserweight.

Thanks. – Matt, Vancouver, Canada

The Real Deal by close but unanimous decision in a very busy boxing match that becomes very physical down the stretch.

 

CAN USYK = COMMANDER VANDER?

Hey Doug, hope all is well.

Usyk (to me) is clearly in the same conversation as Evander Holyfield at Cruiserweight. His accomplishments this year in my mind makes him numero uno for fighter of the year.

Do you think he can achieve what Evander did at heavyweight?

Who would he need to beat and how decisively for you to think Usyk has the goods at that weight class? – D.W. from Boston, Ma

If Usyk defeats a top-10 contender – a former beltholder like Alexander Povetkin or Joseph Parker, certainly a threat like Luis Ortiz – he will have proven to be the goods at heavyweight in my view. I don’t know how feasible those matchups are. We’re more likely to see Usyk take on Dillian Whyte (who, to be fair, is currently The Ring’s No. 4-rated heavyweight), if The Body Snatcher gets by Derek Chisora again on Dec. 22, or maybe Big Baby Miller.

Usyk (to me) is clearly in the same conversation as Evander Holyfield at Cruiserweight. Sure, I’ll buy that. He achieved undisputed champion status in 15 bouts, something Holyfield did in 17 bouts. (I think Holyfield’s level of opposition, which included fellow hall of famer Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Carlos De Leon, was a little bit better than Usyk’s.)

His accomplishments this year in my mind makes him numero uno for fighter of the year. No doubt about it.

Do you think he can achieve what Evander did at heavyweight? I won’t count Usyk out at heavyweight, but I doubt it. To even come close to equaling what Holyfield did in the sport’s glamor division he will have to become the

Holyfield cracks Bowe with a right hand in their rematch. Photo: THE RING Archive

undisputed heavyweight champ. And keep in mind that Holyfield won all the major belts by beating Buster Douglas in 1990, but he also engaged in an all-time great trilogy with Riddick Bowe, and faced several other world titleholders and legit contenders during the ‘90s (which was a deep decade for the heavyweight division), including Lennox Lewis (twice), Mike Tyson (twice), Michael Moorer (twice), George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Ray Mercer. He didn’t win all of those fights, but he certainly didn’t avoid any challenges.

 

A LAST SHOUT FOR THE BOMBER

Hi Doug, hope you, the team and family are well.

Tony Bellew can hold his head up high. He did really well. He frustrated the master at times, countered him well, got him to miss and got Usyk to respect his power.

What went wrong? Tony started really well, and you could see the concentration on his face. It’s a strange one. It looked like he was as mentally fatigued as physically when the knockout came. Also, you could hear Dave Coldwell screaming at him to stay focused in the corner.

I think Paulie Malignaggi called it well. Usyk made an adjustment which he started to have success with, but Tony couldn’t respond and the end came soon after.

The knockout was a bad one. You could tell straight away he wasn’t gonna be allowed to fight after that. Glad to see Tony was ok after the fight.

Usyk, although taking time to figure out Bellew, did figure him out while taking shots to body and head along the way. Usyk was able to make the necessary adjustments to finish the job. He may have been behind on two of the score cards, however it always felt like he had a few more gears and never really looked hurt. He’ll take a lot away from this fight, and the experience will hold him in good stead for future fights.

Where does Usyk go from here?

Would love to hear your thoughts on the following matchups, all at heavyweight:

Carlos Takam

Parker

Hughie Fury

Winner of Dillian Whyte Vs Derek Chisora

Winner of Tyson Fury Vs Deontay Wilder

Andre Ward (one can dream…)

Too early to talk about AJ. And I’m glad the post-fight focus from Usyk was on the night’s fight and Bellew and not his move to Heavyweight. It earned him a lot of respect and although he was booed on the way in he was cheered on the way out for his sportsmanship.

After all the Mayweather and McGregor BS this is what our sport needs more of. Usyk is a class act and he earned many fans last night.

Tony Bellew can retire a happy man knowing he has chased the best and dared to be great. No shame it that. Keep up the good work! All the best. – Tabraze, London

Bellew’s had an exemplary pro career. He’s Liverpool legend, a UK star, and he’s even respected in the States even though he never fought in America. Oh, and he made a lot of money, too.

Tony Bellew can hold his head up high. He did really well. He frustrated the master at times, countered him well, got him to miss and got Usyk to respect his power. I don’t know how frustrated Usyk was, but Bellew exhibited good footwork/movement and head/upper-body movement that made the champ miss more than he usually does, and his counter right hand kept the big southpaw honest – at least for five or six rounds.

What went wrong? He couldn’t keep up Usyk’s pace, punch variety and cumulative punishment.

Tony started really well, and you could see the concentration on his face. It’s a strange one. It looked like he was as mentally fatigued as physically when the knockout came. I think it was more physical. Usyk was getting to his body and timing his lefts to the head with sickening accuracy by Round 7 (Bellew was already dazed by a couple shots before the two-piece that flattened him); my guess is that the Liverpudlian had also begun to run out of gas as he hadn’t made the cruiserweight limit in two years. It’s easy (or natural) for a veteran boxer to drop down in weight in his mid-30s (although Nonito Donaire pulled it off last week).

Also, you could hear Dave Coldwell screaming at him to stay focused in the corner. Easier screamed than done.

Usyk, although taking time to figure out Bellew, did figure him out while taking shots to body and head along the way. Bellew is a pretty good puncher but Usyk appeared to take a few flush rights to the jaw without much problem. That bodes well for his heavyweight plans.

Where does Usyk go from here? Heavyweight, of course. Who’s there for him to fight at cruiserweight?

Would love to hear your thoughts on the following matchups, all at heavyweight:

Carlos Takam – Usyk by comfortable UD

ParkerUsyk by competitive UD

Hughie FuryUsyk by boring UD

Winner of Dillian Whyte Vs Derek ChisoraUsyk by entertaining UD

Winner of Tyson Fury Vs Deontay WilderFury by monotonous MD, Wilder by come-from-behind TKO

Andre WardUsyk by close UD

 

LIGHTWEIGHT IN THE UK

i only caught 2 of the fights this weekend.

usyk was something else. he just switched on in the 8th. yeah, he got hit, and bellew looked damn good for 6 rounds, but usyk wasnt bothered at all. i swear man, i think he was just takin it easy and hangin out.

ricky burns looked freakin great. helps he aint fighting crawford! WOW. lightweight in the UK is off the chain, man. wow.

and i still have a hard time believing hooker beat flanagan. im bummed out linares and garcia left 135. i think even at 140 garcia won’t fight linares. so…linares-ramirez would totally kick ass anyway. – ceylon

Sign me up for Ramirez-Linares or the winner of Hooker-Saucedo (which should be a good scrap) vs. Linares.

usyk was something else. he just switched on in the 8th. I think he was switched on from the beginning of the fight, it just took him six rounds to break Bellew down.

yeah, he got hit, and bellew looked damn good for 6 rounds, but usyk wasnt bothered at all. i swear man, i think he was just takin it easy and hangin out. Nah, Usyk was dialed in. He had to be. However, I think Usyk felt that he was in command.

ricky burns looked freakin great. helps he aint fighting crawford! Duh. There’s a couple levels between Bud and Scottie Cardle. Still, it was nice to see that at age 35, and 50 bouts into his pro career, Burns still has something left. I always liked the Rickster. He’s been in tough over the past eight years. Dude has faced seven titleholders over three weight classes, including victories over then-unbeaten Rocky Martinez in 2010 and Kiryl Relikh in 2016. He’s also notched wins over then-contenders Michael Katsidis, Paulus Moses and Kevin Mitchell.

WOW. lightweight in the UK is off the chain, man. wow. Yeah, I agree. They gotta pretty vibrant domestic scene at 135 pounds.

 

TIMBER!

Dam Dougie,
What about those KOs, I don’t know which one was better: Usyk icing Bellew or Burns cutting Cardell to size like a tree.

Bellew by using his experience to “expose” some of Usyk’s “weaknesses” also proved how good Usyk is. I was surprised at how easily Bellew was able to land those heavy counters on Usyk but also surprised at easily Usyk rode them and continued to apply constant pressure to break his opponent. Usyk’s proved he’s a lethal finisher and got the engine of a combine harvester, but he can be hit and I do question if he moves up if he could take the power of the bigger guys.

That one-two was beautiful and one hell of a way to cement being the first guy to defend 4 belts in the cruiserweight division.

So, this weekend has left me asking:

Can you think of a fighter that has not only beaten 4 top 10 guys in their back yards, but also unified a division in doing so? Usyk is hands down fighter of the year and now has to be considered P4P number one.

What’s left for the “The Feel” at crusierweight?

And if he does move up could he handle the power of a Whyte let alone a juggernaut in AJ?

How would Bellew have fared against Usyk’s opponents over the last year if he had stayed at cruiser?

P.S. Shout out to Burns and Allen for showing the bravery to constantly come back and put everything on the line. It’s guys like that who constantly put everything on the line that give us something to watch. Who knows with his self belief and continuous improvements how far Project Rhino will go. – Undisputed heavyweight champ by 2022? Who can’t root for the guy.

Thanks for listening to a drunk’s thoughts. – Geo

Drunk thoughts are still thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

I can’t argue with your analysis, won’t bother with your opinion on “Project Rhino,” so I’ll skip to your questions:

Can you think of a fighter that has not only beaten 4 top 10 guys in their back yards, but also unified a division in doing so? Not off the top of my head, no.

Usyk is hands down fighter of the year and now has to be considered P4P number one. I agree with him being FOTY, he’s had an awesome year, but it’s one year. Most fighter’s that make it to that lofty top spot in the mythical rankings do so after several excellent years.

What’s left for the “The Feel” at crusierweight? There’s the winner of the current WBSS tournament, and I guess there’s Denis Lebedev, but other than those two, or the very unlikely scenario of Andre Ward un-retiring to face him for the undisputed 200-pound crown, there’s nothing left for Usyk at cruiserweight.

And if he does move up could he handle the power of a Whyte let alone a juggernaut in AJ? That’s a good question. My hunch is that he won’t be able to take a direct hit from a modern-sized heavyweight with good power, but I can’t envision any of the top big dogs nailing him as accurately or often as Bellew did.

How would Bellew have fared against Usyk’s opponents over the last year if he had stayed at cruiser? Interesting question. I think Bellew would’ve narrowly outpointed Marco Huck and Briedis in barnburners, but I believe Gassiev would have clipped him in the late rounds.
 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer and on Persicope.

No posts found.