Eddie Hearn considers only one boxer more deserving of the top spot on pound-for-pound lists than Oleksandr Usyk.
After watching from ringside as Usyk out-classed Anthony Joshua in their 12-round heavyweight title fight Saturday night, Hearn moved Usyk up to the second position on his list. Hearn mentioned only four-division champion Canelo Alvarez, with whom Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing has a promotional partnership, ahead of Usyk.
The 34-year-old Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) became a two-weight world champion by beating England’s Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs). The former undisputed cruiserweight champion won the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles from Joshua, who lost a 12-round unanimous decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
“Two, yeah, after Canelo,” Hearn said when he asked about Usyk’s pound-for-pound status during the post-fight press conference. “I think, I mean, you know, when he was at cruiserweight, everybody called him a top five pound-for-pound. But then when he went to heavyweight, he kind of went off everyone’s radar. But after that win, I mean, he has to be on everyone’s top pound-for-pound. I mean, when you go through the resume of beating Huck in Germany, Gassiev in Russia, Breidis in Latvia, Bellew in Manchester, Chisora in the UK, Joshua [in London], I mean, it’s unbelievable.”
Ukraine’s Usyk occupies the sixth spot on BoxingScene.com’s most recent pound-for-pound list.
The Ring magazine lists Usyk fourth on its newest list. ESPN.com has Usyk ninth on its most current list.
Before Usyk upset Joshua on Saturday night, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist defeated previously unbeaten cruiserweight champions Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev by unanimous decision on his way to winning the World Boxing Super Series’ tournament for boxers between 176 and 200 pounds. Usyk then stopped former WBC cruiserweight champ Tony Bellew before he moved back up to heavyweight, the division in which he has stopped Chazz Witherspoon and out-pointed Dereck Chisora and Joshua.
“You know, and like I said, maybe we should’ve swerved [Usyk] and just put the belt in the bin,” Hearn said. “But that’s not what AJ’s about. You know, and I come back to giving him credit. I hope people do. Yeah, you know, I see people criticize him. ‘Oh, you know, he didn’t box well. Oh, he’s not that good.’ But like, he’s consistently proved that he’s willing to take all comers, and I think he should be applauded for fighting Oleksandr Usyk – twice.”
The 31-year-old Joshua is expected to exercise his immediate rematch clause. Hearn mentioned February or March somewhere in the United Kingdom as a potential time frame and site for Usyk-Joshua II.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.