Oleksandr Usyk made his long awaited heavyweight in October when he stopped Chazz Witherspoon in 7 rounds in Chicago, Illinois. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion looked a bit rusty in the early rounds before finding his groove in the middle rounds.
His debut in the heavyweight division was delayed by injury which resulted in Usyk having an 11 month absence from the ring which is the longest of his professional career.
He won't have that long of a layoff for his next fight with March 21st penciled in for his ring return. The United Kingdom's Dereck Chisora has been mentioned as the leading candidate to be Usyk's next opponent.
Usyk is the mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua's WBO title but the unified champion is expected to face his IBF mandatory (Kubrat Pulev) next.
Another potential opponent for Usyk is former champion Joseph Parker who returns to the ring on February 29th in Texas. Both fighters are promoted by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing and with Parker ranked just behind Usyk at #2 by the WBO, a fight could come to fruition in the very near future.
"I don't think Usyk's first performance at heavyweight was anything to be too excited by but he was still growing into his body. After being a cruiserweight for most of his amateur career and all of his professional career and then going up to heavyweight - he had to put on quite a bit of weight and his body was still making the adjustment. He definitely never looked spectacular in the fight against Chazz Witherspoon and he was unable to put him on the canvas . Even his punches looked slow. I am pretty sure that a skillful guy like Usyk will rebound and look much better in his next heavyweight fight," Parker's trainer Kevin Barry told BoxingScene.com when asked to give an assessment of Usyk's heavyweight debut.
As for Parker, his next opponent still hasn't been locked in. Even with only 6 weeks to go till fight night, Barry said that he is confident they will get a decent opponent.
"We need this to be a decent fight. Joseph Parker is an elite fighter and we need to fight real people. We are looking for somebody who will give us a really good fight and prepare us for bigger fights later in the year," said Barry.
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