Oleksandr Usyk apparently thinks he can give the cruiserweight division another go.
The current WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight champion from Ukraine previously held all four major titles in the cruiserweight division, the first to do so in the four-belt era. Usyk recorded the achievement, in 2018, with a points win over Russia’s Murat Gassiev in Moscow, Russia. Usyk then made one successful defense of his titles—a win over Tony Bellew—before moving up to the heavyweight ranks, where he became unified champion last September with a points win over London’s Anthony Joshua. Usyk held onto the belts last month with another points win over Joshua in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Since then, Usyk, 35, has made it clear he is interested in unifying all four belts in the heavyweight division, in a fight against WBC titlist Tyson Fury. The two, however, will not be fighting each other next, due to a disagreement regarding schedule.
If Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) cannot get Fury anytime soon, he is apparently considering a few other Plan Bs, including one that will see him drop back down to the 200-pound limit once more to collect titles. Usyk has already indicated that he is open to the idea of fighting undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez in a catchweight bout at cruiserweight.
In a recent interview, Usyk said he may even stay at cruiserweight long enough to pick up "a few more" titles that he once held in his possession. Usyk also revealed that being a heavyweight has a significant toll on him, particularly the obligation to “eat all the time” in order to maintain a physique that would allow him to be competitive in that class.
“I was thinking about returning to cruiserweight and getting a few more of the world belts,” Usyk told Parimatch. “You know, being a heavyweight means you have to be really heavy. You must eat a lot. It’s not hard to fight with these giants, but it’s really hard to eat all the time.”
Not only eating, but training as a heavyweight requires Usyk to expend more energy than he did as a cruiserweight.
“And now I work much more than I did as a cruiserweight, particularly in the training camps,” Usyk continued. “I had to swim ten kilometers and train hard. At this moment I just want to stop and take a rest.
“A half of a year of training is hard work. I didn’t see my family for such a long time, I didn’t see my wife, children or anyone.”
The belts in the cruiserweight division are currently scattered. South Africa's Ilunga Makabu owns the WBC portion, France's Arsen Goulamirian the WBA, Australia's Jai Opetaia the IBF, and England's Lawrence Okolie the WBO.