Oleksandr Usyk vs Carlos Takam: Will Joshua or Ruiz relinquish title?
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KO) will make his much anticipated heavyweight debut against the tough and rugged Carlos Takam (36-5-1, 28 on October 12 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Regarded by many as a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter, the polished and poised Usyk is gunning for a title shot in 2020; And this fight may set the stage for that opportunity.
Of course, he's already the WBO's mandatory contender despite the fact he has yet to fight at heavyweight. Does this mean a win over Takam would guarantee an immediate shot at the winner of the rematch between Anthony and Andy Ruiz in December?
The problem: If Usyk dominates or KOs Takam and looks devastating doing it, he could be deemed too much risk for the reward for the winner of Joshua vs Ruiz 2.
Let's not forget, Andy and AJ are fighting for the WBA, IBF and WBO belts. The winner could subsequently relinquish a strap and still claim heavyweight superiority via his unified status.
Alvarez, the unified and consensus middleweight champion, recently gave up his IBF title for not agreeing to face its mandatory, Sergiy Derevyanchenko. He's at a point to where he's bigger than titles. As long as he has one title (and Alvarez has 2), his stock won't drop.
The winner of Joshua vs Ruiz 2, especially if the victory is impressive, will have a lot of stock and drawing power, too. (Although not quite as much as Canelo) Like Team Canelo, handlers for Joshua or Ruiz may decide they don't need 3 belts to maintain its fighter's popularity and respect level.
Moreover, following Joshua vs Ruiz, both fighter will have engaged in back-to-back very tough fights. For Joshua, it will have been three consecutive very difficult assignments (Alexander Povetkin and Ruiz twice).
Don't be surprised if the winner looks for a) a mega, high money showdown with WBC Champion Deontay Wilder or powerbroker Tyson Fury or b) a less threatening opponent such as Kubrat Pulev, Hughie Fury, Adam Kownacki or Agit Kabayel.
Would Oleksandr Usyk be too much risk for the reward?
Michael Hunter, a former cruiserweight contender turned heavyweight, spoke with BoxingNewsOnline.net last year and shared some interesting tidbits about Oleksandr Usyk, who defeated him via a unanimous decision in 2017.
Discussing Usyk's then imminent move to heavyweight, Hunter told BoxingNewsOnline.net:
"I think he would beat [Anthony] Joshua, without a doubt. I think he would outbox him and beat him on points very easily."
Easily? Even in the UK, Michael?
"I think, even in England. This guy has a lot of experience. Even though these guys are very big, we're used to fighting big guys."
"He had two or three hundred amateur fights."
For good measure, Usyk's amateur record was 335-15.
"He's fought all over the world, he's fought in the Olympics, being in the big crowd is not going to be a problem for him and I think it would end up reversing on Anthony Joshua, the pressure would end up flipping on Anthony Joshua when they get in the ring," Hunter said.
"When they get in there, I think Usyk will know how to turn the crowd on him. [They'll] boo, you know what I'm saying, because he's not really hitting with big shots but he's winning the rounds."