Cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk makes the move up to heavyweight this weekend and one man who knows exactly what that takes is Betfair Ambassador David Haye...
"The main difference I noticed in moving up from cruiserweight to heavyweight was the sheer heavy handedness and punch power of the bigger guys"
Oleksandr Usyk v Chazz Witherspoon
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Punch power the main difference
The main difference I noticed in moving up from cruiserweight to heavyweight was the sheer heavy handedness and punch power of the bigger guys. Shots that would be a massive punch from a cruiserweight are medium shots from a heavyweight. An average 18st heavyweight jabbing you on the chin is probably the same as most cruiserweights throwing an overhand right.
Your defence needs to be even more impeccable than it already is, just to survive, as there is no margin for error. You can, perhaps, afford to take a clean jab off a cruiserweight but you can't really afford to allow the same shot to slip through against a heavyweight. It's the difference between picking up a cut or receiving a broken jaw.
You need to treat every heavyweight with the utmost respect, much more than you would someone your own size. Oleksandr Usyk is a master boxer and he has proven it many times in the past. He has beaten big heavyweights in the amateurs, including Joe Joyce who is 6ft 6inches tall and a solid 17st in weight. He has shown he can handle the relentless heavyweight with his superior skillset, so let's just hope he carries his movement up to the top division.
Usyk must get used to bigger guys
When I moved up to heavyweight from cruiserweight it took me just one fight to get used to it all. I had my unification fight with Enzo Maccarinelli, I then fought one top 10 heavyweight contender called Monte 'Two Guns' Barrett who had challenged for world titles in the past and was coming off a good run of victories. I then challenged for the world heavyweight title against the biggest heavyweight champion in the history of the sport, Nikolay Valuev.
Oleksandr Usyk was looking at fighting Tyrone Spong who isn't top 10 but he is a solid heavyweight. Unfortunately, that bout fell through as it appears Spong has been suspended for some type of performance enhancing drug use. That means Usyk is in with American Chazz Witherspoon who has 38 wins and 29 KOs from 41 bouts.
Fighting a heavyweight who is a little bigger than himself is a good start for Usyk and if he wants to fight for world titles in the future he needs to get used to the big guys. Deontay Wilder is 6ft 6, Tyson Fury 6ft 9 and Anthony Joshua 6ft 7, so you've got some very big guys at the top of the division. Usyk will have to get accustomed to, not only fighting these guys, but sparring them on a daily basis. Getting pushed and pulled around changes your style slightly.
No real need to bulk
Going into this weekend's fight I feel Oleksandr Usyk is a genuine world heavyweight title contender. Anybody who has unified all the belts in one weight can automatically step up to the weight above and slide into the top five or top 10, particularly if you were a long reigning champion. Although he has not yet achieved anything in the heavyweight division, he can still be considered in the top 10 in the world.
The reason for that is an awful lot of the heavyweights are, indeed, fat cruiserweights. If you stripped off the majority of body fat from Andy Ruiz Jr, he wouldn't be that much higher than the cruiserweight division. If you put four stone of body fat onto Oleksandr Usyk, he'd still be a great fighter, but it wouldn't make him more of a heavyweight. So, I think Usyk shouldn't bulk up too much but, instead, use his speed and athleticism to become a success.