Oleksandr Usyk (born 7th January 1987) is a Ukrainian boxing champion with an impressive winning streak. The celebrated boxer started his boxing career at the age of 15 and he is the unified heavyweight champion, holding the WBA, WBO, and IBF titles since 2021, and the Ring magazine title since 2022.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Oleksandr Usyk Background and Education
The 36 year old boxer is the firstborn in his family and has two other siblings. His sister is known as Viktoriia Usyk. The graduate of Lviv State University of Physical Culture played football until the age of 15. He switched to boxing in 2002.
He took part in the 2006 European championships and won his first matches but lost in the semi-finals. He moved to light heavyweight and won the Strandja cup in 2008. The boxer went on to win the 2011 world amateur boxing championships. Winning this heavyweight championship qualified him for the 2012 summer Olympics.
Oleksandr Usyk won gold at the 2012 Olympic championships and retired from amateur boxing with a record of 355-15.
Oleksandr Usyk Professional Boxing
Aged 26, he turned pro at the end of 2013. He won his debut match against Mexican Felipe Romero with a fifth round knockout on 9th November 2013.
He went on to win four other major fights before winning his first title on 4th October 2014 after defeating South African Daniel Bruwer and winning the Interim WBO Inter-Continental Cruiserweight title. He defended his title by winning four other fights, putting him at WBO’s number one position.
In June 2016, he won against the undefeated Polish champion Krzysztof Glowacki by dominating the match from the beginning.
The champion made his American debut on 17th December 2016 in a fight against South African Thabiso Mchumu. He won with the records stating that he landed 163 of 517 punches thrown while his opponent landed 76 of 278.
It was announced that he would defend his cruiserweight title in April 2017. He fought against Hunter who held his own until the fourth round when Usyk took over and went on to win the fight.
Muhammad Ali Prize
On 1st July 2015, Usyk announced that he would take part in the eight-man bracket style tournament scheduled to begin in September 2017. Apart from a grand money prize, the winner was set to receive the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy.
Usyk was given the first pick and chose to fight former WBO champion Marco Huck. During the final press conference, Huck pushed Usyk in the face-off and said he wanted to show him he was at his home and should expect the fight of his life. Usyk went on to win the fight.
This win got him to the semi finals where he faced off against Mairis Briedis. Although he won, he described this as the toughest fight of his career. He landed 25% of his punches while Briedis landed 33.7%. Despite taking a lot of hits, Usyk landed 40% of his power punches.
During the finals held on 21st July 2018 at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, he fought against Murat Gassiev. He controlled the fight and was declared the winner by unanimous decision. The prize was presented to him by Muhammad’s widow Lonnie Ali. This win made him the first ever four belt undisputed cruiserweight champion.
In November 2018, he fought and won against Tony Bellew, ending his 10-fight winning streak. Bellew paid tribute to Usyk and announced his retirement from boxing.
After the win, he declared he wanted to move to heavyweight.
During his debut heavyweight match set on 12th October 2019, he fought against Chazz Witherspoon and won. Previously, he was to fight against Tyron Spong but he tested positive for a banned substance.
On 11th March 2020, it was announced he would fight Derek Chosira. If he won, he would be first in line to fight for the WBO Heavyweight title held by Anthony Joshua. He won by unanimous decision.
The fight with Joshua took place on 25th September with most thinking Joshua would win. Maintaining his undefeated streak, he won the competition to become the unified world heavyweight champion.
A second fight was scheduled between the two with Usyk defending the WBA, WBO and IBF championship belts. His wish was that the fight would take place in his native home Ukraine.
However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early 2022 halted the fight preparations. Early March, he joined a territorial defense battalion in Ukraine.
He left Ukraine in late March in order to prepare for the fight with Joshua. The fight took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 20th August 2022 and Usyk successfully defended his title.
On 26th August 2023, Usyk successfully defended his title in a match against Daniel Dubois. The win was controversial-during the fifth round Dubois’ punch forced Usyk to drop to the canvas and the referee ruled it as a low blow.
Usyk is scheduled to fight Tyson Fury on February 17, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Tyson Fury will be putting his WBC title on the line.
Oleksandr Usyk Net Worth
His estimated net worth is US$50 million as of 2023. He pocketed a staggering £15 million (US$18.6 million) in his first fight with Anthony Joshua that was held in England. The amount went up to £42.5 million (US$52.9 million) in their rematch in Saudi Arabia.
Oleksandr Usyk Wife And Children
The boxer married Yekaterina Usyk in 2009. The couple have three children named Kyrylo, Mykhalio and Yelizaveta. In her 30s, Yekaterina runs the Usyk Foundation.