The expected explosive toe to toe war between Krzysztof Glowacki and Oleksandr Usyk did not materialise in Gdansk, Poland Saturday evening as the two previously undefeated fighters boxed for Glowacki's WBO Cruiserweight title.
Usyk of Ukraine moved to 10-0 (9Kos) with a convincing unanimous decision victory, completely out-boxing Poland's Glowacki using his superior footwork and executing a jab heavy game plan. Glowacki's record slips to 26-1 (16Kos).
You may have read the buildup piece on this site where I was hoping for an evenly matched battle that would result in one of the best fights of the year. While we cannot claim a fight of the year candidate what we can argue is that Usyk produced one of the more impressive performances of 2016 as he put on a clinic to become the new WBO Champion, the judges returning scores of 119-109 and 117-111 twice.
Usyk, in only his tenth professional fight, went into hostile territory and handed out a boxing lesson to a previously undefeated champion. He executed his fight plan perfectly and apart from getting drawn into a couple of risky exchanges in the final round boxed in a disciplined fashion throughout the contest. By doing this he achieved the goal laid out by his team of winning a world title faster than Evander Holyfield had managed during his campaign. Holyfield lifted a version of the Cruiserweight title in his 12th outing as a pro and as most readers will know went on to have great success in the Heavyweight division, cementing his legacy as an all time great in the process. I will return to the Holyfield comparison later in the article.
The fight itself really was as convincing in Usyk's favour as the scorecards showed. It opened up in a cagey fashion but Usyk showed more aggression in the opening round and his jab was firing effectively by the end of the session. This pattern continued in the next two rounds as Usyk's radar tuned in allowing his jab to find Glowacki's face consistently. A cut appeared above the Pole's right eye as the third round was ending. Possibly as a result of this the home fighter came out more aggressively in the fourth and while Usyk's footwork kept him out of trouble it got the defending champion on the board in terms of winning a round.
Rounds five to eleven were a showcase of Usyk's domination in this matchup. He controlled the range well, landing his jab and right hook at will, while frustrating Glowacki by always seeming to be just out of reach. Usyk also used a variety of punches to head and body, Glowacki was reduced to throwing wild lunging punches which were easily avoided by the challenger. Usyk in the main kept his ridiculously powerful left hand holstered for the majority of the fight. This looked like a deliberate instruction from his pre-fight preparations so as not to offer Glowacki any encouragement throwing his own jab or hooks. In a perfect world it would have been nice to see Usyk unleash the left and press for the finish but I have no problem with the way he stuck to his plan as he was clearly the superior boxer.
The final round produced the most drama of the night. Glowacki came out in ultra aggressive mode and in his haste barreled into Usyk, sending the Ukranian to the canvas. For the first time since before the opening bell the crowd roared in hope but even they knew that this was no genuine knock down. The referee confirmed this and a final round slug-fest ensued with Usyk matching Glowacki's macho approach. It was an entertaining closing stanza but all who witnessed the action knew what the outcome would be.
As for the earlier mentioned Evander Holyfield – what if Usyk, now that he has won his first title quicker than Evander, mirrored his career by cleaning out the Cruiserweight division and then moving up to campaign at Heavyweight? The man from Ukraine certainly looks to have the tools to do this if this is the path he chooses. At Cruiser the other belt holders are Denis Lebedev (WBA+IBF) and Tony Bellew (WBC). Based on the display tonight I would favour Usyk against these boxers – on a seperate note a Ukraine v. Russia showdown with Lebedev would be tasty and may need to be moved to a neutral site in the interests of world peace.
If one or both of these encounters was negotiated is it beyond the realms of possibility that Usyk, approaching 30, might then fancy ditching the battle to make 200lbs and step in to the Heavyweight arena? With his height (6'3) and reach (78inches) he would find himself on occasion outmatched in these departments by many of the giants who inhabit the current Heavyweight scene, however with the boxing skills he showed tonight, mixed in with more use of his left hand it is not beyond the realms of possibility to see Usyk enjoying success in boxing's glamour division.
Of course all of this is hypothetical and can be looked at more seriously in the future. For now, as boxing fans, we should applaud Usyk's performance this evening and add him to the list of must see fighters for the big fights that will follow. While a rumble for the ages didn't materialise tonight I think we should all be pleased to have witnessed such an accomplished performance from a fighter in only his tenth outing while harbouring hopes that the path taken by Mr. Holyfield in the 80s and 90s may be about to be trodden again.
–Introduced to boxing by watching as a teenager with his Dad, Morrison really began to appreciate the sport during the Lennox Lewis era from the mid 1990s. Since those days he has developed into a passionate boxing fan, enjoying all styles of the fight game. His favourite fight is Barrera-Morales 1 and when time allows he enjoys travelling to attend big fights. Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He hails from Scotland, United Kingdom where he lives with his wife and two children and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.