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Usyk, The All-Time Great & Everything Else

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Usyk, The All-Time Great

Oleksandr Usyk was the subplot going into his rematch with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The bout wasn’t the first fight – Usyk wasn’t as impressive, which made his win in another way that much more impressive. Joshua came to win and focused on the body much more, yet after a strong eighth and ninth round, Usyk swept the final three rounds to win a comfortable, split decision….

Usyk is one of the most interesting fighters ever in the sense his accolades outweigh nearly any modern fighter, but his lack of exposure in the U.S., and only fighting in the United Kingdom when either being set up as a b-side or coming in as the opponent has seen Usyk become a dog of war. An undisputed cruiserweight champion who now holds all, but one world title at heavyweight, and more impressively has won each belt on the road, across two divisions – cruiserweight and heavyweight. Even more so, Usyk fought this fight while his country, Ukraine is at war, and Usyk at times was fighting in the war. 

Usyk is not the modern fighter, everything is about glory – and historical relevancy. Usyk to me is the greatest cruiserweight to ever live, and a fascinating fighter to think about from a historical sense as he can box without moving too much, and has the hand speed of a middleweight that seemingly stops bigger fighters from jabbing a lot. That being said, his social media isn’t full of call-outs, he is an older fighter, and essentially he lives and dies by competition not followers on his social media accounts.

It is hard to do a true tribute to Usyk because his skills make him a star, but Usyk is an ambassador of boxing the opposite of the modern era, in which fighters are built up and created to be what they become. Usyk earned his right at the top of the sport. Usyk is what the U.K. wanted to be, but Usyk simply showed that they had been sold a dream.

Now we have to see what is next as a Tyson Fury fight seems inevitable for the best heavyweight of the era, but also Usyk vs. whomever the WBC deems the fighter to beat for the WBC heavyweight title becomes a very fascinating fight to see if Usyk can enter the rarified air of being a two-weight undisputed world champion. 

Usyk is currently the best fighter in the world to me.

Joshua = Bruno 2.0

Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist will always be a beloved British boxing figure, but the more his story continues the more Anthony Joshua’s story looks like cultural icon Frank Bruno than it does Lennox Lewis. Joshua now has lost his comparison to Lewis, as he lost a rematch to a man who beat, which by defeating Andy Ruiz kept him in that conversation. Joshua has lost three of his last five fights, and more so most of his opponents have been systematically selected to help the industrial complex around Joshua make money. A cynic could look at Usyk as a cherry-pick gone wrong, very wrong. 

Joshua was marketed in the U.K., as a British version of “Sugar” Ray Leonard, as he was essentially packaged as a hardworking all-around guy who is an industry leader in the sport, who gave boring and generic positive speeches like a politician to speak to the masses. Yet, the mental framework from his knockout loss to Andy Ruiz Jr., seemingly rattled him – and then being outclassed by Usyk last year seemingly befuddled the massive heavyweight. Now suffering his second straight loss, and more than likely it will be a while before he fights for a world title, especially if Usyk has a long reign, Joshua is now a highly sought-after marketable fighter, coming down from his apex mountain.

All of this, and rumors of Joshua signing a long-term deal with DAZN next week, at the lowest point in his career, really have Matchroom Boxing the ropes. This year, Katie Taylor won a close fight, but I doubt she has many more fights left as a pro, Joshua lost, Canelo lost, Bam Rodriguez has emerged as a guy, and Leigh Wood, one of their organic homegrown guys isn’t fighting along with Chantelle Cameron, who isn’t fighting often. It is a strange time, and with the man who has been making the majority of the money – Joshua, losing now things will get stranger, as the search for the next capital G Guy in the sport of boxing starts over, or at least for Matchroom.

You can somewhat see this as Joshua essentially had an embarrassing mental breakdown or temper tantrum after the fight, in which you could see essentially shock in the result of losing, and him trying to talk to people to handle the sorrow of losing. It was as though he was shocked that a close-ish fight could go any direction, but his. The loss to me reaffirms Joshua isn’t a hall-of-famer, but simply a good fighter, and that he is a fun fighter, but maybe not one of the truly best of his era, but rather one of the most profitable. Joshua’s book isn’t written, but this loss was a hard one for him – and now he needs to really think about what drives him in the sport, as he is richer than most people can imagine, and Joshua has to decide if can continue to push forward without the world titles.

When looking at Joshua one thing springs to mind, entitlement. With all of his political capital over the last decade, has only had to take a self-inflicted hard road, as the politics of boxing always seemed to work in Joshua’s favor. A creation of his own success I suppose, but also hard to find sympathy when Joshua has had so much, and wants even more.

Moreso, what is up with some of Matchroom Boxing’s decisions as a boxing company? Canelo facing Bivol, and losing badly – and now Anthony Joshua facing Usyk last year, after Usyk had some lackluster performances, sort of feels like a strategic cherry-pick of a top name in the sport gone wrong, as did the Bivol fight. Food for thought.

Saudi Arabia….

The Public Investment Fund, Vision 2030, would’ve been proud, but the commercial nature of Saudi Arabia on the telecast was unsettling, and the lack of any acknowledgment of how the deal was done, and furthermore the way promoters, and fighters went out of their way to speak about how great Saudi Arabia is, speaks to MBS new investment in sports to open up western world investments. Sure, Uber was heavily funded by Saudi money. Still, the fact that before the main event we essentially sat through a Saudi commercial with no real acknowledgment or even context in a real-world perspective just felt like utter greed allowing propaganda to be disguised as sports entertainment.

It was jarring as Saudi Arabia played a huge role in the setting and the context of the fight, yet it was barely acknowledged except when being praised on the telecast.


A true cracker jack of co-main event saw too deeply flawed heavyweight in Filip Hrgovic and Zhilei Zhang put on a show. Zhang, who is big, strong, and slow – knocked down the feared heavyweight Hrgovic in round one. 

Hrgovic, who looked the part of a true world title contender, was extremely vulnerable to taking clean shots and as my friend Sean Bastow put it “…looked like Andrew Golota” in the bout at times somewhat running away from Zhang. Zhang fought the fight of his life, but it wasn’t without his own flaws, as Zhang would punch himself out by throwing heavy shots. The judges scored the bout for Hrgovic, the fans felt Zhang won, as an IBF heavyweight title eliminator, I would actually prefer to see a rematch of this bout to see a true contender. If not, Zhang facing Joshua in his return in China would not just be a good bout, but also play to the utter greed undertone we saw in this bout being held in Saudi Arabia, so one could view it as a sequel to this fight.

Hrgovic showed the heart and chin of a champion, but the defense of a contender, and Zhang fought like a character you’d love to use in a video game. 

Callum Smith stopped a guy named Mathieu Bauderlique three seconds into the fourth round. The win now makes him mandatory for Artur Beterbiev’s WBC light heavyweight title. 

Badou Jack and Richard Rivera had a weird bout. Round eight saw a four-minute round, the scores were weird as Badou Jack won a split decision. The fight wasn’t entertaining, Rivera was more impressive. Yet, the keyword was Rivera effective. I think that simply would’ve come down to the state, and in Saudi Arabia – Rivera was not going to win a close fight. I wouldn’t be mad at a cruiserweight bout between Badou Jack and Sergey Kovalev in the future. 

Ramla Ali got a first-round stoppage in a fight against an opponent that was perfect for her. Her fight worked in a subversive nature as it was the first ever fight between two women in Saudi Arabia, and essentially I couldn’t help, but think the fight was on the card to simply say to the western world how progressive Saudi Arabia is, and that women can fight there. 

Ben Whittaker, who is a star in the making, had a six-round decision. The Olympic silver medalist, screams about being the next big U.K. star to me. 

Andrew Tabiti, now fighting at heavyweight, got a fifth-round stoppage of James Wilson

Lipinets Wins On A Week’s Notice

For some time it has felt like Omar Figueroa Jr. has had half of his foot in boxing and half out, as he was set to fight Adrien Broner, only for the fight to fall through. His replacement a much tougher Sergey Lipinets – a man who only losses to the elite fighters in his division, and is the best version of himself at 140 lbs., dominated the bout. 

Lipinets dropped Figueroa Jr., and the bout was waived off at the end of the eighth round. It is clear, a fight against Broner was Figueroa Jr.’s last hoorah, and his outburst this week about Broner pulling out of the fight due to mental health might have spoken to his frustration of knowing how hard this new fight would’ve been for him.

After the fight, Figueroa Jr. retired, and Lipinets is now back in the world title picture once again at 140 lbs. 


The co-main saw Albert Puello win a close split-decision over Botirzhon Akhmedov to win the vacant WBA 140 lbs world title. This marks the second split decision loss of Akhmedov’s career as the pressure fighter has to make an adjustment at a certain level to make his work clear to the judges. Puello becomes the first Dominican 140 lbs champion, ever, and will make for an interesting champion.

Hector Garcia defeated Roger Gutierrez for Gutierrez’s WBA super featherweight world title. Garcia is having a heck of a year as he upset Chris Colbert and returned after that win to defeat the champion and claim a world title. I would assume a bout with Leo Santa Cruz or Gary Russell Jr., would be the type of fight Garica targets next. 

Brandun Lee picked up a ten-round decision over Will Madera, but the story of the fight was Madera dropped Lee in the fight. These make or break moments, as this will be a good learning lesson for Lee, or a cautionary foreshadowing of the rest of his career. We will soon find out in the near future. 

Atif Oberlton, a light heavyweight who reminds me of Paul Williams, got a six-round decision. Since FOX has stopped televising boxing, Oberlton has not been as active, good to see him back.

Francisco Pedroza Portillo picked up a six-round decision over Rau’shee Warren. The three-time Olympian Warren losing on an untelevised undercard seemingly says the ship has sailed on his career. 

Emanuel Navarrete

Emanuel Navarrete made the third world title defense of his WBO featherweight world title against Eduardo Baez, but it wasn’t without some big questions left. Navarrete reminds me of Rick “The Model” Martel’s spray bottle from pro wrestling – arrogance. Navarrete told the broadcast crew, that he has bad eating habits, but will fix them later, and essentially lost every round until stopping Baez in the sixth round. 

Navarrete is one of the more exciting and decorated lower-weight fighters, but this performance showed immaturity, and a possible state of decline if he continues on this path, as Baez almost had enough to beat him, but with his discipline, he will move out of this weight, and at higher weights, his strength will not be the same. Navarrete has a chance to be a Mexican legend, but he has to live the lifestyle of the sport, in order to accomplish that. 

Baez fought extremely well, and despite being stopped deserves another TV fight. 


Welterweight Giovani Santillan, a San Diego local, reminded me of a southpaw Josesito Lopez, as he edged Julio LunaSantillan really needs to fine-tune his defense for the top fighters in the 147 lbs division. 

A tremendous bout saw 2016 Mexican Olympian Lindolfo Delgado get an eight-round decision over Omar Alejandro Aguilar. This fight was evenly matched and should see Delgado get into the world title mix for beating the undefeated game contender. 

Sacramento’s own, Xavier Martinez, got a fifth-round stoppage over a tough Alejandro Guerrero in a fight that started fast but saw Martinez, now with Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy make adjustments, and stop Guerrero. 

Popular Bakersfield fighter Miguel Contreras got a win on the undercard, he is a guy who embraces tough fights, and makes for good fights, as well as Antonio Mireles, a huge heavyweight, who won the 2020 Olympic Trials, got a KO to win.

Nico Ali Walsh also stopped Reyes Sanchez, the man who gave him a hard fight, showing his growth in the sport. 

Thompson Boxing

Lack of focus was key for Ruben Torres and Cristian Baez, as Torres knocked out Baez after tapping gloves with a left hook right after it. The big thing was that Baez was more so focused on pleading his case for the fact that he tripped and was not knocked down that he lost track of the fight itself leading to the knockout. 

Torres is a formidable fighter, who is on the verge of graduating to major televised cards. 

Loui Lopez got a hard-fought win over Elias Diaz, a game spoiler, and Pedro Valencia proved his merit by outlasting Adrian Corona in a fun Southern California battle. 

Club Show Results

Juan Carlos Camacho defeated Fernando Diaz on ProBoxTV. 

Manuel Gallegos got a win in Mexico, at super middleweight and called out Edgar Berlanga. With Berlanga returning in December, Gallegos might fit the bill of a suitable next opponent. 

Luis Feliciano had a rough outing on a club show bout in L.A. getting a majority decision, and Robin Safar got a KO to win on that card. Mathias Radcliffe also won on that card. 

Thomas LaManna and Emmanuel Rodriguez both picked up wins in their respected bouts on the east coast. 

Cassius Chaney won his bout at heavyweight.

MMA in 500 Words Or Less

Leon Edwards stopped long-reigning UFC champ, Kamaru Usman. More shocking than the result is how little these fights seem to shock or impact the world anymore. 

As we continue to see fighters I have heard of continue to lose, as Paulo Costa defeated Luke Rockhold, and Merab Dvalishvili defeated Jose Aldo. 

In the PFL, Kayla Harrison won once again. She is set to face Larissa Pacheco in the finals of the PFL. The bout is a trilogy and Harrison has dominated both fights. I wish we could see Harrison in a fight against an all-time great, as she appears to be one.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle