Oleksandr Usyk is the current IBF, WBA, WBO and Ring magazine heavyweight champion of the world. However, he is much more than that. He is a fistic magician who in 2018 became the first fighter to unify the cruiserweight division in the four-belt era. A fighter destined for the Hall of Fame, Usyk also has a charming and captivating personality too, a rarity in a sport that for the most part these days churns out nondescript and colourless champions who stick to the PR narrative.
Usyk was born on 17 January, 1987 in the Crimean city of Simferopol, but now lives happily with his family in Kyiv. He is not huge by today’s heavyweight standards, standing 6ft 3ins tall (1.91m) with a 78 ins (1.98m) reach. However, what he lacks in sheer size against the heavyweight behemoths of today he more than makes up for with cunning, guile and cojones. At the age of 35, there are miles on the clock, but Usyk (21-0 as a pro with 14 wins inside distance) sees it as his destiny to unify the heavyweight titles and his attitude of only seeking out the biggest fights and the biggest challenges is so refreshing.
Usyk also has a social conscience and deep sense of national pride, enrolling in the Kyiv Territorial Defense as part of the war effort to defend against Russia's attacks in early 2022. Such a humane stance delayed his lucrative rematch with Anthony Joshua, a fighter he had earlier defeated to win the WBA, WBO, IBF belts in London in September 2021.
His eccentric nature has made him popular in the UK, where he has boxed three times as a pro. The Ukrainian uses juggling and dancing as part of his training methods, and can often be seen busting moves or singing on social media during fight week, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Usyk next fight vs Tyson Fury
At last, we have two men fighting to crown boxing's first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis way back in 1999.
Usyk will lock horns with WBC and lineal heavyweight king Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 17, 2024. All of those marbles will be on the line.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua
Usyk first stripped Joshua of his WBA, WBO, IBF heavyweight belts with an imperious performance in September 2021. Joshua suffered the second defeat of his career on a balmy night in London after being outboxed and outfoxed by a mesmerising display from the Ukrainian in front of a huge live audience at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
‘The Cat’ showcased his superior ringcraft in a fight which was captivating without ever truly catching fire, eventually winning a unanimous points decision after almost stopping AJ in the final stanza. Not for the first time in his brilliant career, intelligence and skill won the day over brutish force with Joshua unable to find a way past Usyk’s southpaw style and peerless footwork.
As AJ found out to his cost, Usyk does not always load up on his shots. In that first fight (and indeed the return) it was often enough to prod, poke and place his shots while controlling the distance. Usyk took his lumps in that first fight, finishing marked up around the eyes and cut, but he showed without question that he belonged at heavyweight boxing’s top table.
Their return fight was delayed as war raged in Ukraine, but the pair eventually met again in August 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This was meant to be Joshua’s night of redemption, even though he came into the ring as a betting underdog for the first time in his career. Yet once again Usyk tore up the script, logging a 115-113, 116-112, 113-115 victory on the scorecards before Joshua gave a bizarre post-fight speech.
It was a much better display from AJ, who threw to the body more but could not establish any real rhythm with his jab. In truth, the fight was in the balance after nine rounds. However, ‘Oleksandr the Great’ put his foot on the gas in the last three sessions to pull away for a deserved win on the cards.
Usyk’s philanthropy is also worth noting. He ensured that all Ukrainians were able to watch him in that Jeddah return against Joshua with no paywall. Usyk was willing to cover any financial costs to remove the pay-per-view restrictions in Ukraine before being gifted the rights for his title fight in a gesture of goodwill by Saudi Arabian organisers anyway, ensuring those at home could watch him for free.
Oleksandr Usyk record - pro and amateur
Usyk was a stellar amateur before turning over in 2013. His final amateur record in the unpaid ranks was an impressive 335-15. He won some major titles, including the 2008 European Championships in Liverpool (a tournament where fellow countryman Vasiliy Lomachenko also struck gold). He also tasted success at the 2011 World Championships but his crowning glory in the amateurs was winning the 2012 London Olympics, where he took care of Artur Beterbiev, Tervel Pulev and Clemente Russo en route to glory.
Oleksandr turned pro with a quick stoppage victory over the overmatched Felipe Romero, but was fast-tracked to glory and beat Krzysztof Glowacki on points to win the WBO cruiserweight title after just nine professional fights in September 2016. He took the unbeaten record of useful American Michael Hunter in 2017 and then outpointed the game (and also unbeaten) Mairis Briedis in a thriller to add the WBC belt to his WBO crown. This was part of the cruiserweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series.
Usyk became the first unified cruiser champion of the four-belt era in July 2018 after comprehensively outboxing Murat Gassiev (who was 26-0 going in). That win was impressive as he beat a top Russian in Moscow (and at time of writing it remains Gassiev's only pro defeat). He made one more defence at 200lbs in knocking out and retiring Liverpool’s Tony Bellew in November 2018.
After that win at the Manchester Arena, he set his sights on the heavyweights and ran through Chazz Witherspoon (RTD 7) in Chicago and Dereck Chisora (UD) in London, which set the scene for his two megafights with Joshua.
Usyk's most recent outing was a stoppage of Britain's Daniel Dubois in Wroclaw, Poland in August 2023.
He has a perfect 21-0 (14) record and in early 2024 will challenge Tyson Fury for the undisputed heavyweight title.
Oleksandr Usyk net worth
It has not been an easy road but Usyk is now one of boxing's biggest stars and biggest earners. Indeed his profile and his earning power has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. In 2018, Usyk signed a multi-year promotional year with Matchroom Boxing. The deal was the biggest of Usyk’s career to that point and meant that he would be co-promoted by Eddie Hearn and K2 Promotions. However, it’s the Joshua fights that have made him financially secure for life.
He is understood to have claimed a £33m purse for that Joshua rematch, with Usyk guaranteed a 50/50 split of the £65,000,000+ Saudi Arabia paid to host the fight. It is also understood he could rake in an additional £9million bonus on top of that, as long as the fight performed well enough in terms of PPV.
Fury has of course confirmed he is willing to come out of retirement to face the Ukrainian for all four heavyweight world titles after Usyk's latest win over AJ, but is asking interested promoters to come up with a £500million purse. With this in mind, Usyk could be set for a very lucrative 2023 if he can nail down a dance with ‘The Gypsy King’.
The great man also has his own fashion line, though it is unclear how much he has earned from his USYK-17 range.
Oleksandr Usyk wife and family
Oleksandr is married to Kateryna Usyk and together they have three children whose names are Kyrylo, Mykhalio, and Yelizaveta. They live in Vorzel, Ukraine.
The world champion's house was reportedly damaged by Russian soldiers while he was out of the country fighting Joshua in Saudi Arabia, but happily images have recently surfaced online of the 35-year-old standing proudly outside his residence with a Ukraine flag raised.
Oleksandr Usyk weight
Usyk first came to prominence in the amateurs in 2006 as a middleweight who lost to the useful Matvey Korobov in the semis of the European Championships. He moved up to light-heavy to win the Strandja Cup in 2008, and then jumped up to heavyweight for the 2008 Olympics but lost in the quarter-finals in Beijing.
He won the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships as a heavyweight (201 lbs limit) and stayed at that weight to win the Olympics in London. For his pro debut he weighed in at 200 ½ lbs and he was 198 ¼ lbs when he unified the cruiserweight belts against Gassiev in 2018. For his move to heavyweight, he packed on the pounds and was 215 lbs against Witherspoon and 217 ¼ lbs v Chisora.
We were able to decipher from the two Joshua fights that Usyk is big enough and good enough for the elite heavyweights, and he weighed 221 ¼ lbs and 221 ½ lbs for those fights in London and Jeddah respectively.