Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Usyk (Ukrainian: Олекса́ндр Олекса́ндрович У́сик) is a Ukrainian professional boxer who has held the WBO junior heavyweight title since 2016. As of May 2017 he is ranked as the world's best in the division by The Ring magazine, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and BoxRec. As an amateur, Usyk won gold medals at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, both in the heavyweight division.
Usyk was born in Simferopol, Crimean Oblast. Until age 15, he used to play association football and was trained at the SC Tavriya Simferopol specialized sports school of Olympic reserve (club's football academy). In 2002 Usyk switched to boxing. He is a graduate of Lviv State University of Physical Culture.
At the 2006 European Championships he won his first three matches against little-known opponents, in the semi-final he was outclassed by Russian star Matvey Korobov.
He then moved up to light-heavyweight later and won the Strandja Cup in 2008.
In February 2008, he moved up another weightclass and was sent to the Olympic qualifier in Roseto degli Abruzzi replacing European Champion Denys Poyatsyka. There he defeated world class Azeri Elchin Alizade and Daniel Price.
At the 2008 Olympics, Uysk he outpointed Yushan Nijiati by 23:4, but lost to Clemente Russo by 4:7.
He dropped down to light-heavyweight and won gold at the 2008 European Championships, but later moved back up to heavyweight. At the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships he beat Artur Beterbiev and Teymur Mammadov to win the Heavyweight title and qualify for the Olympics.
At the 2012 Olympic Games (results) in London, Usyk won the gold medal, beating Artur Beterbiev, Tervel Pulev and Italy's Clemente Russo, outscoring him by 6-3 in Round 3.
Usyk turned pro in late 2013 at the age of 26 and signed a promotional deal with the Klitschko brothers' K2 Promotions, fighting in the Cruiserweight division.
On November 9, 2013, Usyk made his professional debut by defeating Mexican fighter Felipe Romero via a fifth-round knockout. The following month he stopped 38 year old Epifanio Mendoza in four rounds. In his 3rd professional fight on April 2014, Usyk made his debut in Germany on the undercard of Klitschko-Leapai at the Koenig Pilsener Arena defeating Ben Nsafoah via 3rd-round knockout. A month later, Usyk returned home and knocked out Cesar David Crenz in round 4, having knocked him down in round 3 as well.
Rise up the ranks
Usyk won his first title on October 4, 2014 after beating South African boxer Daniel Bruwer via round 7 technical knockout for the Interim WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title. Usyk defended the title two months later stopping 35 year old Danie Venter in round 9. Usyk was ahead on all three judges scorecards at the time of stoppage.
Usyk made another defence in April 2015 against former Russian cruiserweight champion Andrey Knyazev (11-1, 6 KOs) in Kiev. After seven one-sided rounds, referee Mickey Vann finally stopped the fight in round 8 after deciding Knyazev had taken enough beating. This win kept Usyk on course to a WBO title fight against then champion Marco Huck.
In August 2015, Usyk defeated former South African light heavyweight champion Johnny Muller via 3rd-round technical knockout at the Sport Palace in Kiev, which saw Usyk control the fight with a jab. Usyk knocked down Muller twice in round 3 and although Muller protested, referee waved the fight off with one second of the round left.
Usyk made a fourth and final defense against unknown Cuban boxer Pedro Rodriguez in a scheduled 12 round fight on December 12 at the Sport Palace. Usyk won the fight scoring his 9th straight knockout in as many fights, first dropping Rodriguez in round 6 with an uppercut before the fight was stopped in round 7, being knocked down again, although he beat the count. This win put Usyk at WBO's number 1 position, with a World title fight on the cards for 2016.
WBO junior-heavyweight champion
Usyk vs. Głowacki
In June 2016, it was announced that Usyk would challenge undefeated Polish boxer Krzysztof Głowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) for his WBO Cruiserweight champion on September 17 at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The fight was shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. On the night, Usyk outpointed Głowacki after an exciting 12 round fight with the judges scoring it 119-109 117-111 117-111 all in Usyk's favour. The decision win also ended Usyk's run of having won his opening 9 fights via stoppage. Usyk dominated the fight with a jab, eventually injuring Głowacki's eye early in the fight leading it to eventually bleed. The cut continued to bleed for the remainder of the contest. Usyk also used his dominant hand speed and footwork which helped him score the decision win.
Usyk vs. Mchunu
Usyk announced he would be making his American debut on the Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr. card on December 17, 2016. The fight would take place at the Forum in Inglewood, California. On November 11, K2 Promotions announced Usyk would be defending his WBO title against 28 year old South African boxer Thabiso Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs). Mchunu previously lost to Ilunga Makabu via 11th round stoppage, although being ahead on the scorecards at the time. Usyk broke down Mchunu eventually stopping him in the 9th round. Prior to the stoppage, Usyk also knocked Mchunu down in the 6th round. In round 9, Usyk knocked Mchunu down twice in. The fight was halted by referee Lou Moret after the second knockdown. Although the fight started very slow, the fans in attendance began to boo. The pace was picked up after the first couple of rounds, when Usyk started connecting with his trademark combos.
The official time of the stoppage was at 2:53. Prior to the fight, Usyk spoke of his desire to fight other cruiserweight titlists as well as fighting Anthony Joshua at heavyweight. The fight averaged 560,000 viewers on HBO, this was considered good numbers considering it was Usyk's HBO debut and on the undercard.
Usyk vs. Hunter
K2 Promotions announced that Usyk would be returning on regular HBO to defend his cruiserweight world title in April 2017. He was originally planned to appear on the undercard of the Golovkin-Jacobs HBO PPV in March at Madison Square Garden, however since Roman Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras were scheduled to appear in separate fights and not fight each other, Usyk was pulled from the card.
On February 12, Usyk announced that he had parted ways with long time trainer James Ali Bashir and replaced him with Vasyl Lomachenko's father and trainer, Anatoly Lomachenko. Bob Arum announced that Usyk would be part of a triple header including Vasyl Lomachenko at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland on April 8, 2017 against Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs). Usyk weighed 199.4 whilst Hunter came in at 199 pounds. In front of a sold out crowd of 2,828, where there was majority Ukrainian fans in attendance, Usyk was taken the distance for the second time in his career and won a rather one-sided unanimous decision to retain his WBO title. Hunter unexpectedly controlled the first three rounds behind the jab. It wasn't until the fourth round, when Usyk took control of the bout using his left and connecting well to the body to win majority of the remainder rounds. Pundits thought Hunter was gifted going the distance and the fight should have been stopped by referee Bill Clancy in the championship rounds. In round 12, it appeared in the last minute, Hunter, whilst taking punches, was only standing because of the ropes where holding him up. Referee halted the fight and gave Hunter a standing 8 count, ruling it a knockdown for Usyk. All three judges scored the fight unanimously 117-110 for Usyk. Although it took him a few rounds to get into the fight, Usyk was happy with his performance and called out other titleholders, "I'm very happy with my performance,. I did what I wanted to do. He took a lot of punches. I thought maybe they would stop the fight (in the 12th round). I'd love to fight any of the titleholders, any time, any place."
According to CompuBox punch stats, Usyk landed 321 of his 905 punches thrown, 36%. Hunter managed to land 24% of his punches, connecting 190 of 794. The fight drew an average of 679,000 viewers on HBO and peaked at 774,000 viewers.
World Boxing Super Series
On July 1, 2017 Usyk finally announced that he would join fellow cruiserweights Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev, Yunier Dorticos, Marco Huck and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the 8-man bracket style tournament, due to start in September 2017. He said, “I feel happy and inspired with the idea of such a tournament. I've been dreaming of putting together all the champs to see who is the strongest and becomes the undisputed king of the division.” The draw was to take place on July 8 in Monte Carlo. The winner of the tournament would receive a grand money prize and the Muhammad Ali trophy.
Usyk vs. Huck
At the Draft Gala, Usyk, who had first pick, chose to fight former WBO champion Marco Huck (40-4-1, 27 KOs). When asked why he chose Huck, Usyk said, “Because of my fans.” Huck, who was equally excited, replied that Usyk was his 'wish opponent'. On July 26, it was announced that the fight would take place at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin on September 9, 2017. This would mark the second time Usyk would fight in Germany in his professional career, having fought their on his third professional bout in April 2014. It would also mark the first fight of the tournament.
On 6 September, at the final presser, Huck pushed Usyk in the face-off. In regards to the shove, Huck said, “I wanted to show Usyk that he is my hometown and that he should be prepared for the battle of his life on Saturday.” Usyk, who remained professional and calm, replied, “If you want to be a great champion, you have to beat the best and Huck is one of the best. I chose to enter this tournament because it is a path to achieve my dream of unifying all the belts. There’s a prestigious trophy at stake too, the Muhammad Ali Trophy. We were born on the same day and I admire Ali because he is the biggest role model in boxing and I will thank God if I win a trophy with his name on it.” As he was leaving the building, Usyk claimed he would 'bury' Huck.
On fight night, Usyk used his footwork and combination punching to cruise to a TKO win. On top of his dominant performance, Usyk taunted Huck throughout the fight. In round 8, Usyk tripped on Huck's feet and Huck lost a point on the scorecards as he threw a punch at Usyk when the latter was down. Usyk continued to land combinations with little to no response from Huck until referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight in the tenth round. With the win, Usyk progressed to the semi-final stage of the Super Series and was to face the winner of the Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez, scheduled for 30 September.
Usyk vs. Briedis
Usyk will fight Mairis Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs) following the latter's win over Perez via unanimous decision.
Usyk is married to Kateryna and the couple have 3 children (born in 2009, 2013 and 2015).
Roughly one month after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation Usyk declared (on 28 April 2014) he would never exchange his Ukrainian citizenship for a Russian one and that he considered Crimea a part of Ukraine.
In 2016, answering to a question if he can still enter Crimea and his patriotic position, he stated that he can enter Crimea after each of his fight; that he doesn't like to talk politics due to the fact that people like to take words out of context, that in Russia he has many fans and what he doesn't divide "our peoples because we are Slavs".
Professional boxing record
|Professional record summary|
|13 fights||13 wins||0 losses|
|14||N/A||N/A||Mairis Briedis||N/A||– (12)||TBA||TBA||Defending WBO cruiserweight title;
For WBC cruiserweight title;
World Boxing Super Series: cruiserweight semi-final
|13||Win||13–0||Marco Huck||TKO||10 (12), 2:12||9 Sep 2017||Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany||Retained WBO cruiserweight title;
World Boxing Super Series: cruiserweight quarter-final
|12||Win||12–0||Michael Hunter||UD||12||8 Apr 2017||MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland, US||Retained WBO cruiserweight title|
|11||Win||11–0||Thabiso Mchunu||TKO||9 (12), 1:53||17 Dec 2016||The Forum, Inglewood, California, US||Retained WBO cruiserweight title|
|10||Win||10–0||Krzysztof Głowacki||UD||12||17 Sep 2016||Ergo Arena, Gdańsk, Poland||Won WBO cruiserweight title|
|9||Win||9–0||Pedro Rodriguez||TKO||7 (12), 1:57||12 Dec 2015||Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine||Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title|
|8||Win||8–0||Johnny Muller||TKO||3 (12), 2:59||29 Aug 2015||Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine||Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title|
|7||Win||7–0||Andrey Knyazev||TKO||8 (10), 2:24||18 Apr 2015||Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine||Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title|
|6||Win||6–0||Danie Venter||TKO||9 (10), 2:29||13 Dec 2014||Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine||Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title|
|5||Win||5–0||Daniel Bruwer||TKO||7 (12), 2:55||4 Oct 2014||Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine||Won WBO Inter-Continental interim cruiserweight title|
|4||Win||4–0||Cesar David Crenz||KO||4 (8), 2:19||31 May 2014||Sport Palace, Odessa, Ukraine|
|3||Win||3–0||Ben Nsafoah||KO||3 (8), 1:43||26 Apr 2014||König Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany|
|2||Win||2–0||Epifanio Mendoza||TKO||4 (6), 2:10||7 Dec 2013||Ice Arena TEC Terminal, Brovary, Ukraine|
|1||Win||1–0||Felipe Romero||TKO||5 (6), 1:36||11 Sep 2013||Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine|