WBO cruiserweight champion Alexander Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs) will have a new look to his fighting style this Saturday night when he defends his title against unbeaten 2012 U.S Olympian Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KJOs) in their fight on HBO Championship Boxing from the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The Usyk-Hunter fight will be taking place on the undercard of WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko’s title defense against Jason Sosa. Another great fight on the card is light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk fighting Yunieski Gonzalez in a 10 round fight. Those are the three fights that will be televised on HBO. Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk are all 3 from Ukraine, and they’ve all won Olympic medals in the past. Lomachenko and Usyk are past Olympic gold medalists, whereas Gvozdk is a bronze medalist.
Usyk, 30, isn’t saying what the change is in his fighting style, but it could have to do with him possibly using more punching than he used previously. It’s not big news that the 6’3” Usyk focused on his boxing during his last fight against Thabiso Mchunu last December at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The boxing fans booed loudly at seeing Usyk choosing to jab and move rather than trying to take his opponents head off. Usyk never really did sit on his punches in the fight, but he did score a 9th round knockout based on his high work rate. If he’s going to make changes to his game for this Saturday’s fight against Hunter, then it would be wise if he chooses to punch with him.
“If I’m going to tell you right now about those changes, you guys going to write, and my opponent is going to know about it,” said Usyk to ringtv.com. “But we’re working on it. There are some changes – minor changes. We can’t make big changes in a short time, but yes, we’re making some changes and everything is going very good.”
The 28-year-old Hunter is going to be looking to knock Usyk out in this fight. If Usyk doesn’t watch out, he could wind up getting stopped in this fight because Hunter definitely will be sitting down on his shots on Saturday night. He’s got the size and the skills to do a number on Usyk if he lands a hard enough shot.
A lot is being made on Usyk beating Evander Holyfield’s record of becoming the fastest fighter to win a world championship in the cruiserweight division with him winning the WBO title in just his 10th fight as a pro. Usyk beat WBO champion Krzystof Glowacki by a 12 round unanimous decision to take his title last September. Boxing is different nowadays compared to in the past. The promoters are a little wiser now, and realize they don’t need to take Olympic champions and have them fight 40 times against lesser opposition before they finally put them into a world fight. The way that promoters used to bring their fighters along in the past was wrong. They wasted large portions of their fighters’ careers by guiding them too slowly before putting them in a world title fight.
“I need three more titles,” said Usyk. “It’s very important for me to have all four titles. Because everyone right now is talking, I am a champion, I am a champion, but when one guy has all four titles, there is no question who is the champion in that division. I thought about that even when I was fighting in amateurs – one day I’m going to be a pro fighter, and I wanted to be undisputed champion.”
For Usyk to win 3 more titles at cruiserweight, he’s going to need to beat Murat Gassiev, Denis Lebedev and Mairis Briedis. Those are not going to be easy fights. It’s unclear whether Usyk can get all three of those fights. He can’t force the issue. But if Usyk’s management can get him a fight against all 3, he’s still going to have a lot of problems winning them. Briedis looks very good at this point, and he’s got superb punching power. Gassiev, 22, is clearly the hardest puncher in the division. If he lands something square on the jaw of Usyk, he’s going to be in big, big trouble.
Is Canelo stringing Golovkin along?
Middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) has been chasing a fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) for close to 2 years now, and it’s starting to look like he’s being strung along by the redheaded Mexican fighter. Boxing fans believe that Canelo isn’t afraid of GGG. They put the blame squarely on the shoulders of his promoters at Golden Boy. But a fighter doesn’t give up responsibility for their own careers. When their promoters are clearly steering them around a certain guy like Golovkin, it’s up to the fighters for them to step up and direct their team to put them in the fights they want to see.
Golovkin, 34, is coming off of a win over Daniel Jacobs last March at Madison Square Garden in New York. Golovkin clearly won the fight. CompuBox confirmed that GGG had landed more shots in the fight. He also knocked Jacobs down in round 4. The fight brought in a low number of PPV buys on HBO, however. It can be any number of reasons why the fight didn’t do well. The most plausible one is the fact that the fight had competition from NCAA Men’s basketball and Major League Baseball. There was no way that Golovkin vs. Jacobs was going to be able to bring in large numbers with competition from baseball and basketball on the same night. Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya is using Golovkin’s low PPV numbers as a reason to get a better deal for Canelo.
Golovkin doesn’t have to put up with Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions playing games with him. He can give his promoter Tom Loeffler his marching orders to make the fight with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. In fact, that’s exactly what he should do. Golovkin needs to break away from this pattern he’s stuck in chasing down a fight against Canelo. In boxing, when a fighter tries to chase a fight against another fighter, they put themselves in a position where they often get ignored for long periods of time. When they do eventually get the fight they wanted, they often have to take far less than what they deserve. If Golovkin is on board with taking less money than he rates for the Canelo fight, then he should continue to put in effort to get the fight.
Golovkin can get the fight he wants against Canelo in the future, but only after he puts the redheaded Mexican fighter on ignore. By forgetting about Canelo, Golovkin will get the fight he wants in my opinion. When Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions both decide that they seriously want the Golovkin fight, they’ll come running after him rather than vice versa, and the fight will be effortless for Golovkin and Loeffler to put together. Right now, there’s an imbalance in terms of Golovkin and Loeffler wanting the fight more than Canelo and Golden Boy do. I think they’re stringing Golovkin along so that he can help them with their bottom line by attracting boxing fans to purchase their fights on PPV against over-matched opposition that have little chance of beating Canelo.