Usyk, the smiling assassin, targets Fury and Joshua

By T. R. Lewison

A Halloween night victory over heavyweight gate keeper Dereck Chisora substantiated Ukranian Oleksandr Usyk’s claim to a place in the division’s top 10. Many observers remain confident Usyk can depose the belt holders above him despite greater than expected problems overcoming the veteran Brit. 2020 has been a frustrating one for Usyk. In his career this far, he has been eager to progress and boasts an appetite for challenges and a willingness to say “Yes”, too few of his contemporaries can match.

The kudos accrued in beating Chazz Witherspoon and Chisora represent a below par annual return for Usyk. Having carved through the entire Cruiserweight division in sixteen bouts to become undisputed king, he has become accustomed to faster progress. Within a complex heavyweight title picture, he may need to develop the virtue of patience in 2021 too. At 33 years old, 34 in January, despite the division traditionally extending a fighter’s prime a little longer, Usyk may prove to be past his own peak when his opportunity finally arrives.

Continue reading “Usyk, the smiling assassin, targets Fury and Joshua”

MyFightTickets.com Fighter of the Month – July

Boxing can make you cry. Boxing can make you shout. Make you sing. Excite you. Demoralise you. Inspire millions. Save a lonely soul. A single prize-fight can evoke all of these emotions, bring communities together, even unify the divided, if only temporarily. Since the 1950s the pioneers of commercial television realised the potential boxing had to provide enthralling action and, soon after, the draw the men in each corner could become if their stories, their characters were revealed.

It is why, alongside the practicalities of a sport viewed through the monochrome of the early television sets, champions wore white shorts, the challenger black. Just as their contemporary storytellers in Hollywood depicted good guys with white Stetsons and evil landowners in Black ones. Boxing wanted you to care, to ‘pull’ for one guy or the other. And to watch the adverts too of course. Continue reading “MyFightTickets.com Fighter of the Month – July”

Usyk the Ukrainian hero needs no titles

“If there’s one thing I know, it’s never to mess with Mother Nature, mother-in-laws and mother freaking Ukrainians.”

Skinny Pete, The Italian Job, 2003

Sport and politics are not meant to trespass on to each other’s figurative lawns. Far too frequently, they do. From the cricket fields of apartheid South Africa in the 1970s, the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics through to the present day  – a swirl of state sponsored doping, kneeling line backers and the awarding of football World Cups on the basis of stuffed manila envelopes rather than full stadiums. The politicising of sport is neither a new nor uncommon phenomenon. They are perennially entwined.

Boxing is littered with examples, from the persecution of Jack Johnson a century ago to the symbolism of Joe Louis’ rematch with Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1938, it is a rich and luminous seam. Fighters possess power in their actions and their opinions that can reach far beyond the roped square in which they ply their trade and politicians are always eager to manipulate the image or popularism of their pugilistic contemporaries. Continue reading “Usyk the Ukrainian hero needs no titles”

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