No, Oleksandr Usyk is Not the Champion

In case you missed it, Oleksandr Usyk beat Tyson Fury to win the undisputed heavyweight world championship; this is the first time that the heavyweight belts have been unified in the 2000s.

The feat was pretty remarkable too, considering Fury outweighs Usyk by nearly 40 pounds, is 6 inches taller, and has a reach of 7 inches more than Usyk. This isn't the first time Usyk beat someone much bigger than him, having similarly defeated Anthony Joshua — twice.

This also makes Usyk a champion at two weight classes — cruiserweight and heavyweight. While there is no shortage of multi-division champions in boxing, rarely does heavyweight become one of those divisions. After all, there's no upper limit on heavyweight weights. You can have a fight with between a 400-lb muscle man and a 225-lb (that's the heavyweight lower limit) fighter. In no other weight class is that possible.

And basically, Usyk is the 225-lb guy and Fury is the 400-lb guy in this comparison. That's what makes Usyk's feat really impressive.

So impressive, in fact, that many are crowning Usyk as the greatest active pound-for-pound boxer. In a recent poll at Bad Left Hook, Usyk decisively won a poll between himself, Terence Crawford, and Naoya "Monster" Inoue as the p4p champ.

Usyk, however, is not the p4p champion, I submit. Granted, I do agree that he's in the top three, and the triumvirate of Usyk, Inoue, and Crawford are the only three guys that have an argument.

The reason I think you have to give the nod to Inoue or Crawford is because neither of them have ever struggled to get a victory as a professional. They've simply dominated every pro fight they've ever been in. Usyk can't say that.

So what, exactly, do I mean when I say "dominated?" I mean this: Inoue and Crawford, like Usyk, are undefeated and untied. But all of Inoue and Crawford's wins have been by unanimous decision or stoppage. Usyk can't say that.

It gets more impressive for Crawford though. The closest fight he's ever had as a professional was a little over ten years ago, against Ricky Burns. In that one, a couple judges awarded him a 116-112 victory. This means no professional has ever gotten within two rounds of him in the eyes of judges across all of his professional fights (Inoue does have a couple 1-point "victories" on judge's scorecards).

Usyk, meanwhile, has two split-decision victories (one judge voted for the other guy) and one majority decision victory (one judge had it as a tie). One of those fights was this past one against Fury.

You might say, and indeed plenty of boxing fans are saying, that what Usyk did in beating Fury is so unprecedented that it overrides the fact that some of his fights have been close, especially since two of those three fights were against guys much bigger than him.

I have two responses to that: one of the fights — the majority draw — was against Mairis Briedis at cruiserweight. That's Usyk's natural weight class.

Secondly, who is to say Crawford and Inoue can't also beat guys 40 pounds heavier than them? Maybe they couldn't, but maybe they could. They will likely never get the chance, though, and I don't think you can punish them for that.

It's for the same reason I don't like the idea of seeing undefeated G5 schools in college football left out of the playoff for having a weak schedule. Who is to say these teams wouldn't also be undefeated if they played an SEC schedule? If they have decisively beaten everyone ever put in front of them, you have to give them the chance, right? Power schools notoriously refuse to schedule historically successful G5 programs for fear of being beaten.

Yes, there are limits to this logic. There are undefeated teams in the NAIA, and I don't think you should put them in the college football playoff. There are hundreds and hundreds of undefeated boxers.

But I say, any football team in Division 1 should automatically get in the playoffs if they go undefeated, and in the case of Crawford and Inoue, they are world title holders who have defended their belts many times over.

What say you? Is Usyk, Crawford, or Inoue the pound-for-pound champion?

Leave a Comment

Featured Site