Date:   Saturday, April 8, 2017


Location:   MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA

Promoter:  Top Rank / Bob Arum

Supervisor:   John Duggan, Esq.

Referee:  Bill Clancy,

Judges:   Dave Braslow (117-110), Lynne Carter (117-110), Jamie Garayua (117-110)

Results:  Oleksandr Usyk retained the WBO Jr. Heavyweight title with a pretty one-sided win tonight over Michael Hunter,  staying undefeated with an unanimous decision win.


UsykTomLoefflerEgisKlimas033017B-400x400 Photo: K2 promotion –

By Przemek Garczarczyk –

Tom Loeffler, K2 managing director spoke with about the second US WBO title defense by Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk (11-0, 10 KO) who will defend his title against undefeated Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KO) and Gvozdyk-Gonzalez will be part of an April 8th HBO live telecast undercard on Vasyl Lomachenko – Jason Sosa WBO super featherweight title bout from MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

“Usyk has this X factor to excite fans. Similar to Chocolatito Gonzalez. Flyweights, super flyweights – these divisions weren’t getting a lot of attention. Especially in America. Because of his exciting style in the ring, his charisma outside it and exposure on HBO, Chocolatito became one of the fan’s favorites. Exactly the same thing can happen with Usyk – even without a lot of attention around cruiserweight division right now. Hopefully, with HBO’s help, we can bring the best cruiserweight fights to the US from Europe and Russia where most of the best fights are happening right now,” said Loeffler.

Q: Oleksandr Usyk, we all got the message that he’s the best cruiserweight in the world, his reign over belts is coming…but he likes to talk about fighting as a heavyweight. Kind of mixed message.

A: The other part is rather answering the question if he considers fighting as a heavyweight. Usyk clearly wants to unify all the titles in the cruiserweight division and whet timing is right he will consider becoming heavyweight. Because of his frame, talent, his technical skills and speed he can make a successful transition into heavyweight division. But first things first… 

Q: GGG all the belts plan, cruiserweight edition?

A: Absolutely. He just won a world title, beating the best cruiserweight in the world and breaking Evander Holyfield record. Even with these accomplishments, Usyk has still a lot more do. But, as we see with Golovkin, it’s not as easy to get all the title fights – even when you are ready to chase belts in guy’s back yard.

Q: I was a little underwhelmed with his US debut – especially the first part – of Thabiso Mchunu bout. Was Oleksandr a victim of his own – also ours – expectations? Were we wrong, expecting heavier version of Gennady Golovkin?

A: I don’t think so. It was simply a testament to Mchunu experience, his never easy to fight, slick and tricky southpaw style. He deserves credit – Mchunu stepped up to fight Usyk, when others said no. Even though it was a slow start for Usyk, he was still able to figure Mchunu out – and stop him. Michael Hunter is much more conventional style than Mchunu. He’s young, undefeated, has experience from being in the Olympics – definitely it will be a tough test for Usyk. Styles matchup in this fight will be definitely pleasing for the fans. Just like Oleksandr bout with Głowacki – and clearly at that time Głowacki was the best cruiserweight in the world. With only ten pro fights, he went to best champion home, Poland, and won unanimously. You can’t say enough how good he was there, on the champion home ring.

Q: In my 25+ years covering boxing in US, this is – at least – third attempt to resurrect cruiserweight division. Cunningham, Adamek, then Głowacki tried that, having great, sometimes spectacular fights on TV. It did not work. Now is Usyk time, with probably unprecedented list of great cruiserweights?

A: Usyk has this X factor to do it. No matter which division he’s in. Similar to Chocolatito Gonzalez. Flyweights, super flyweights – that divisions weren’t getting a lot of attention. Especially in America. Because of his exciting style in the ring, his charisma outside it and exposure on HBO, Chocolatito became one of the fans favorite. Exactly the same thing can happen with Usyk – even without a lot of attention around cruiserweight division right now. Hopefully, with HBO help, we can bring the best cruiserweights fights to US from Europe, Russia where most of the best fights are happening right now. This is such a deep division, in Europe, one of the most popular. Mairis Briedis from Latvia just became a new champion, there’s Murat Gassiev, Tony Bellew, Głowacki… there’s so many great fighters. Cruiserweights are always great athletes – big, with speed and big punch. Heavyweights, because they don’t make weight, you see a lot of them out of shape, not in the most exciting fights. There’s an extra pressure on cruiserweights, especially in America, because you have to stand out as a boxer. Just like it was on Chocolatito, who knew he can not bring boring fights to make people interested. He delivered.

Q: Times are changing. Vasyl Lomachenko challenged for world title in his just second professional fight, now, with less than ten fights, Loma is considered one of the best P4P fighters in the world. Usyk became universally recognized world champion in his 10 pro fight. Not long time ago, it was simply unthinkable.

A: Just like it was unthinkable to have three fighters from country other than US fighting as A-side on HBO tripleheader – it will happen this Saturday with Ukrainians Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk. Because they are talented, they have an exciting style. Fans recognize that. Back to your question: there’s a lot more attention – and acknowledgement – to fighters amateur careers. Both Lomachenko and Usyk were Olympic champions, had great amateur career. Transition from amateur to pro fighter becomes easy when you have amateur pedigree combined with punching power. GGG, Usyk – perfect examples. Usyk was build up by K2 Ukraine, was very popular, selling out big arenas even before he went to Poland and become world champion. Now, he’s successfully defending his title in America, on HBO… but he did not forgot his roots – as I understand, he’s ready for a big homecoming. Being from Crimea – is just part of his national pride. Usyk wants to come back and show his connection, prove to Ukrainian fans that he remembers their early support.

Q: Your personal cruiserweight TOP 5:

A: I think we can agree that Oleksandr Usyk is number 1. Number 2 – Murat Gassiev. Just 23 years old, he went to Moscow and beat very good Denis Lebedev. His age distinguishes Murat from anyone else. No big amateur career but training with Abel Sanchez, power he brings with him, sets Murat apart. Number 3-4, tie: you have look at Mairis Briedis and Tony Bellew. Tony always seems to be underrated and he always finds the way to win! I like him, we met through Eddie Hearn at WBC convention, he’s really likable guy. When I saw him standing next to David Haye, on the scales, at the weigh in, I was thinking: ‘Wow Eddie, it will be a tough fight…”. Number 5: Krzysztof Głowacki, because his win over Huck. He was very impressive with the way he knocked Marco out and he might have softened up Huck for Briedis. Lebedev is very close, but I think Głowacki is better under pressure. Very close. There’s also Yunier Dorticos, hearing good things about him, but he did not have any stand out wins – yet.

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By Thomas Gerbasi

When he’s not punching someone in the face, Oleksandr Usyk can usually be found with a smile on his face, a joke coming out of his mouth, magic tricks, or maybe even a song bellowing out to the world. In the process, it’s made the WBO cruiserweight champion pretty popular these days.

“I’m already popular?” he asks through manager / translator Egis Klimas. “I’m surprised.”

He shouldn’t be. In a division that has always had good fighters but often fell short in terms of crossover potential and charisma, the 30-year-old Ukrainian is bringing new life to the cruiserweights. But as far as he’s concerned, he’s just being himself.

“If I am smiling, if I am laughing, that’s a true laugh and a true smile,” he said. “If I need to be serious, I am serious because I have to be serious at that point. Since I was a kid, I always was happy, I always was joking. I like jokes, I like comedy movies, I like to talk to people, and I just want to be myself. If I’m going to go to the fight, I am serious and I put my mind into it. If I need to be aggressive, I’ll be aggressive. But the most important thing for me is to be myself.”

This Saturday, the American introduction of Usyk continues with an HBO-televised title defense against fellow unbeaten Michael Hunter at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. In December, Usyk fought on U.S. shores for the first time as a pro, dispatching Thabiso Mchunu in nine rounds at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

It wasn’t a flawless performance like the kinds turned in from friend and fellow world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko, but it was a fun fight to watch and one that made you want to see him again. This weekend, it’s time for him to build off that effort against another 2012 Olympian in Hunter.

On paper, it’s a marketable fight between two boxers with similar pro records, but Usyk’s 11-0 (10 KOs) looks a lot different than Hunter’s 12-0 (8 KOs) when it comes to quality of opposition. Then again, as Usyk points out, the past means nothing when they still have to fight on Saturday.

“Everybody has his own road and his own way,” he said. “He (Hunter) went that direction, I went this direction, and I can’t determine who had the harder or better amateur career. We will see on April 8th.”

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What does bear watching is if Usyk can continue to build his fan base here in the States, and with K2 Promotions and Klimas behind him, that’s a given if he keeps winning impressively. Of course, that doesn’t make the time away from his family back in Kiev any easier, but that is a price he’s willing to pay.

“I’m focusing on what I’m doing, and right now I’m focused on my fight on April 8th,” Usyk said. “If I’m going to be thinking about family or how hard it is to be here…this is my job. Everybody knows that I came here to do my job and that’s what I’m focused on. Of course, I think about my kids, I talk to them, and this is what gives me the motivation. I talk to my wife and my kids and I miss them, but I am here for the job. And as soon as it’s done, I’ll go back home and spend a lot of time with my family and we’re gonna laugh, joke and have a good time.”

First there’s work to be done, and with new trainer Russ Anber in the corner, Usyk is determined to dispatch Hunter and move on to the business everyone is asking him about, and that’s unifying the cruiserweight crown.

“I would like to unify the titles,” he said. “And if we can meet each other and find out who’s the best, who’s the real cruiserweight champion, that would be ideal.”

It also used to be a fairly easy task when there were three sanctioning bodies, but now with four “major” belts and some multiple titlists in particular organizations, Usyk can conceivably be looking at five fights to get through each belt holder. Add in promotional entanglements and the politics of making a unification fight, and it could be more trouble than it’s worth. But if it gets to that point, Usyk has no intention of dealing with such issues. He’ll simply accelerate his move to his final frontier – the heavyweight division.

“If it’s not gonna happen, it’s not gonna happen,” he said of cruiserweight unification. “I’m not going to be just waiting for someone to come here. I’ll move to the heavyweight division.”

Then the real fun begins.–115305?print_friendly=1