By Jake Donovan
Oleksander Usyk has hit the ground running on the fast track to cruiserweight contention and for good reason. The 2008 Olympic Gold medalist – currently 3-0 (3KO) already has aspirations of making boxing history.
Holyfield scored a thrilling 15-round decision over Dwight Muhammad Qawi in Dec. ’86, winning a portion of the cruiserweight crown just 12 fights and barely over one year into his pro career. The 1984 Olympic Bronze medalist went on to become the division’s first-ever unified champ and widely regarded as the greatest cruiserweight in boxing history, a legend which only grew following his success as a four-time heavyweight titlist, including two lineal championship reigns.
Usyk is less impressed with the record as he sees it as a target for his own goals as a pro.
“Evander Holyfield became cruiserweight champion in his 12th pro fight. I want to beat his record and get to the title as soon as I can,” insists Usyk, who faces Argentine veteran Cesar David Crenz (21-8, 13KO) this weekend in his native Ukraine.
Boasting over 300 amateur fights and two tours with the Ukraine Olympic Boxing team (2008, 2012), Usyk wasted no time in seeking out experienced opponents from the moment he turned pro last November. The 27-year old southpaw was throwin in with 24-fight veteran Felipe Romero in his pro debut, scoring a 5th round knockout in their scheduled six-round cruiserweight affair.
Usyk fought his first scheduled eight-round bout last month, though only needing less than three to obliterate Ben Nsaofoah in Germany. The bout came on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko’s 5th round stoppage of Alex Leapai, following extensive time Usyk enjoyed in training camp with the lineal heavyweight king.
Saturday’s showdown with Crenz marks his third fight at home in the Ukraine, where the plan is to develop his star potential before seeking out the best cruiserweights.
As for when and whom he plans to fight for a title… that depends entirely on the titlist willing to step forward and defend against the former amateur standout.
“It doesn’t matter to me who I fight,” Usyk boldly states. “That’s for my promoter (K2 Promotions) to figure out. I’m ready for anybody in the world.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox