After conquering the cruiserweight division by putting on a spectacular boxing clinic against heavy-handed Murat Gassiev to become the undisputed cruiserweight champion in the WBSS, Oleksandr “I Am Very Feel” Usyk delivered a tremendous knockout against Tony Bellew to prove he’s a force to be reckoned with as dipped his toes in the heavyweight division.
His much-anticipated heavyweight debut was originally scheduled against Carlos Takam but was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a bicep injury. Now, Matchroom Boxing took to social media to announce the former Olympian’s return to the ring is scheduled for October 12 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago against former kickboxer Tyron Spong.
“I am very excited to make my heavyweight debut in Chicago on October 12, live on DAZN,” Usyk said in a press release statement. “Spong is a fast and powerful heavyweight who has had much success in the ring. I must come through this test to challenge for the world heavyweight title. I look forward to seeing everyone there.”
Before making his boxing debut in 2015, Spong–who won 91 of his 100 fights as a kickboxer– has remained undefeated with all but one of his 14 fights ending by way of knockout. Though the Ukranian southpaw has only two more professional fights than Spong, he comes in as the heavy favorite due to his more impressive resume and outstanding tactical ability.
The Surinamese-Dutchman who goes by “King of the Ring” is fresh off a first-round knockout victory against Ecuadorian opponent Jayson Minda (14-2-1, 8 KOs) this past Saturday at Gimnasio Polifuncional, Merida, Yucatán, Mexico and hopes to continue with the momentum when he meets in the ring with the former cruiserweight champion.
“After achieving most of my goals as a kickboxer and becoming one of the most decorated champions in the history of the sport, I wanted to test myself in the difficult and challenging sport of boxing,” Spong said on the Matchroom Boxing press-release. “I have worked tirelessly during the last three years and now have the opportunity to prove my worth as a boxer against perhaps the best pound for pound, and most technically sound boxer in the World. Some may think the challenge may be too difficult, but I believe in myself, and look forward to being victorious on October 12.”
Though the opponent of choice may disappoint some boxing fans, it’s not who he fights in his debut that has people intrigued, but Usyk’s possible chances at making a dent in the heavyweight division stacked with foes who’s best attributes range from lethal power or outstanding defense to hand-speed and sharp combinations.
While most fans were ridiculously entertained by Usyk’s brutal knockout victory over Bellew, he is predominantly recognized for his impeccable boxing ability often compared to his much-smaller countryman and three-division world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
It was at Lomachenko’s world-title matchup against Luke Campbell this Saturday in fact, where Usyk appeared to be speaking to Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin, who was fighting in the undercard against Hughie Fury. Though Povetkin was rumored to have been Usyk’s first choice for his debut, the fight failed to come to fruition and speculation is now circulating Povetkin will be on the undercard of Usyk’s heavyweight debut. Though the Russian called out Tyson Fury post-victory Saturday night, the possibility of a fight with Usyk should they both be victorious in their next bouts does heavily interest the fans who wanted a decent challenge for Usyk.
Already a WBO heavyweight mandatory for the winner of Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua II, it seems Usyk will be thrown into the wolves soon after getting his feet wet into the division. Will he get devoured by the long-time heavyweights or will he come out leading the pack?
Tickets are on sale now for Usyk vs. Spong, with a stacked undercard to be released imminently. Tickets start at just $40 plus booking fees at https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/070057139FF02C5D.