BOXING

Is Oleksandr Usyk the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?

The Ukrainian boxer was considered a top fighter and a threat for the heavyweight division, but he has become a star after defeating Anthony Joshua.

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Is Oleksandr Usyk the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?

He's the man of the moment, probably the face of boxing after his amazing display of skills against Anthony Joshua last Saturday in London. Oleksandr Usyk has reached stardom by upsetting the favorite and becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion.

After his performance against the British superstar, many experts started wondering what can Usyk not do in the ring. And while there are some heavyweights who could trouble the Ukrainian master at any given moment, probably the most likely to be able to do so is Tyson Fury.

But even against the ‘Gipsy King’, Usyk would be the superior, more skilled boxer. Like AJ, Fury would probably have his height and weight as his weapons to try to beat Usyk; otherwise, it seems a difficult task for the British fighter to try to get his hand raised by just boxing.

The Ukrainian not only proved he has great boxing intelligence and stamina, but he can also absorb damage. On Saturday Joshua landed several jabs and some power shots that would have probably put many contenders in real trouble, but the Ukrainian always stood in front of him without being intimidated by Joshua’s power.

Usyk: the all-around boxer

When the shorter boxer faces a bigger, natural heavyweight who has the reach advantage and knows how to use his jab like Joshua, or like Lennox Lewis back in the day, the shorter fighter needs to change strategy and use all his skills to counterattack that aspect.

The shorter boxer will need to have good accuracy, a great gas tank and foot movement, a good variety of punches and be able to fight backwards as well as coming forwards, and that’s what Usyk showed the world in London.

Obviously, there are great boxers out there too: Canelo Álvarez, Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue, Josh Taylor, Errol Spence... Canelo, because of what he has accomplished and the way he has done so over the years, is the consensus choice for pound-for-pound #1.

But what about Usyk? Could he be the No.2 in that ranking? The answer is that he could very well be ranked No. 2 and menace the top spot because of his skills, because he has never ducked any fight and because he became the undisputed and undefeated cruiserweight champion in only 16 fights and he has needed only three bouts to win three of the four major heavyweight titles.