Three Punch Combo: Canelo’s Next Opponent (Maybe), Oleksandr Usyk, and More.

 

By Matt Andrzejewski

Canelo’s Next Move

As expected, Saul “Canelo’ Alvarez easily dispatched of Liam Smith in their junior middleweight title bout on Saturday in Texas. As of this moment, Canelo’s return is penciled in for December on HBO. But who will he be facing? Well, there is one name out there not a lot are mentioning but seems very likely.

Immediately following his victory against Smith, Canelo (pictured with Oscar De La Hoya) indicated that he would probably not be returning to the junior middleweight division. For his initial bout as a full-fledged middleweight, Canelo and his team will probably try to cherry pick an opponent with a high ranking. It does not necessarily need to be a name opponent as the bout will not be going pay-per-view. The opponent will need to be respectable yet also very beatable much like Liam Smith.

The WBC has long been an organization that has held Canelo in a very favorable manner. The number one ranked WBC contender at middleweight is Argentina’s Jorge Sebastian Heiland. And this is the fighter I expect we see Canelo face in December.

Given the ranking of Heiland, the WBC would probably sanction the fight for some sort of belt. In all likelihood, their “Silver” title at middleweight which is currently vacant. So the fight could be marketed as a title fight. In addition, Heiland has all the credentials Golden Boy would be seeking in an opponent for Canelo. He is tough but is not a big puncher. Heiland has never been stopped and would at the very least figure to go rounds. He has one name win on his resume and that was a knockout of Matthew Macklin two years ago. So that could be played up some in building up the fight.

This is, of course, not the fight that we all want to see. But given the current situation, is very realistic, from a business standpoint, if nothing else. HBO will buy because Canelo draws an audience regardless of whom he faces. Jorge Sebastian Heiland is a name boxing fans should get familiar with as he seems likely next for Canelo in December.

Oleksandr Usyk

Oleksandr Usyk captured the WBO cruiserweight title this past weekend in just his tenth fight as a pro with a well-deserved unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki. All things considered, it was a solid performance by Usyk who went the distance for the first time in his career.

The expectations going into this fight were unfairly very high for Usyk. The former amateur star had looked spectacular in his first nine fights as a pro. He had displayed skills that some compared to fellow countryman Vasyl Lomachenko. And power that some felt was on par with that of Sergey Kovalev. Going into the Glowacki fight, much of the boxing community was expecting a star making knockout winning performance.

In Krzysztof Glowacki, Usyk was facing one of the top cruiserweights in the sport. He had just a year earlier ended the long reign of Marco Huck and was coming off a fairly one-sided win over Steve Cunningham. Glowacki is a good boxer who carries power in both hands and is not an easy fight for anyone. It was unrealistic going into the bout to think that Usyk would steamroll him.

Taking a step back from the high expectations, Usyk’s performance was very impressive. He boxed effectively using movement and combinations to keep Glowacki at bay most of the night. Usyk’s defense was very solid, especially for a fighter in just his 10th professional bout. And though he did not get the knockout, he did show real power in both hands. Glowacki did not let his hands go as often as he had in other bouts and the reason was concern for being countered by Usyk’s heavy hands. The fact of the matter here is Usyk pretty much dominated Glowacki although it wasn’t the one-sided quick demolition that so many inside the sport unfairly expected.

Oleksandr Usyk is only going to get better going forward. The experience he got from the Glowacki fight will only help. The expectations were a little much going into this fight but that said Usyk does possess the kind of talent that does not come along often in this sport. He needs to develop more but over time may turn into something really special.

Under the Radar Fights

At first glance, the boxing schedule this week seems fairly light. There are no PBC cards and no big live events on premium cable. However, there are some very good under-the-radar fights taking place that fans should not miss.

Showtime has a ShoBox quadruple header scheduled on Friday night. The main event is a very evenly matched contest in the light heavyweight division pitting undefeated Travis Peterkin against Radivoje Kalajdzic. Peterkin is a former amateur standout from Brooklyn, NY, and Kalajdzic is coming off his best performance, albeit in a loss, to prospect Marcus Browne. On paper, this is a tough fight to call and should not only be competitive but very entertaining.

Also on the card are a couple of returning ShoBox fighters in Ivan Golub and Ivan Baranchyk. These are two big time prospects with big time power. They are each taking a step up in class so it will be interesting to see how they respond to their respective tests.

In my previous column, I wrote about the excellent fighters south of bantamweight and the many great fights that are out there to be made. On Saturday, beIN Sports features one such fight in a flyweight bout between Donnie Nietes and Edgar Sosa. Nietes has not lost a fight for 12 years and Sosa is a former title-holder who makes for exciting fights. This is a classic crossroads fight and a must-win for each man. With what is on the line and the styles of the two, I expect a real firefight could occur. This is a fight not to be missed.

COMMENTS

-stormcentre :

I was at the Glowacki V Usyk fight, and (even though you maybe correct) I personally don't think the expectations placed upon Usyk were entirely unfairly high on him. I agree and like your write up though Matt. Usyk has had an aura about him for a while. Some of it is self created and other parts are from those whom know his pedigree and how he plies his trade. All Oleksandr's professional fights prior to Glowacki had been won by stoppages, and I think many others thought and believed that the Glowacki V Usyk fight certainly could have been more exciting. It's not an unreasonable expectation. To some extent Glowacki proved to be a little too much for Usyk to fight and win in the typical style Oleksandr usually exhibits. Oleksandr could have adopted the same or a similar approach for Krzysztof though. However, such an approach would also be akin to taking on unnecessary risk. But, in retrospect, aside from toughness and the typical level of skill/ability to be expected at this level, Glowacki didn't really offer an awful lot to show for himself. Perhaps that is because Oleksandr fought in an atypical manner and didn't provide the opportunities; who knows? Personally, I think the high expectations of the fight that were not met - were more than anything else, those of excitement and action. To my eyes, Usyk deliberately (and perhaps smartly) opted not to utilize his typically overconfident and brutal approach for various respect/safety related reasons, and - in the end - it paid off. That said, it appeared to largely be a deliberate and conscious decision on Oleksanr's part to fight in this way. And in doing so he minimized Glowacki's counterpunching and other opportunities . . . at least until 75% of the fight had lapsed anyway. In my opinion, it was largely Glowacki's "power" (especially whilst fresh and counterpunching) combined with both facts, (i) that the fight represented an opportunity to seize a title and opportunity to make real money so early in Oleksandr's career, and (ii) Krzysztof himself represented a reasonably big step up in competition for Oleksandr . . that largely brought about Usyk's change of approach from that he usually adopts in fights. But then, perhaps my last paragraph means that the expectations placed upon Usyk were unfairly high and you are correct. And, on that note never let it be said that I don't like to agree with anyone.
Storm. :) :) :)


-brownsugar :

Storm you really get around don't you? ... It looks to have been an exciting show. Your guy Usyk is the most mobile and well conditioned cruiserweight I have ever seen(post Holy field). He looks just as promising as a young Holyfield did when he entered the pro ranks as a cruiser.(although they are stylistically different) I mean he ran circles around Glowaki. Every boxer with an ambition to be tops in their class should master the art of mobility... I was highly impressed.


-stormcentre :

I was lucky BS. To some extent the stars kind of lined up for me with my personal schedule at home (freeing me up), and also both the Brook V Triple and Glowacki V Usyk fights. Usually I genuinely struggle to effectively plan/execute even domestic travel arrangements. I had always intended to catch the Glowacki V Usyk fight in Poland on the way to Russia for personal reasons, and usually when I go over there it also makes sense to stop off in the land of endless fried breakfasts, late night curries, and double decker buses; London. Seriously, though (so long as you're not in traffic) I like the place. London just happens to be on the way to where I was going, so - whether or not the Brook V Triple fight was on - that was always going to be a destination. But the fact that the Brook V Triple fight was on made sense too. Currently in Russia now, and it's late and cold. Cheers,
Storm. :) :) :)


-brownsugar :

I was lucky BS. To some extent the stars kind of lined up for me with my personal schedule at home (freeing me up), and also both the Brook V Triple and Glowacki V Usyk fights. Usually I genuinely struggle to effectively plan/execute even domestic travel arrangements. I had always intended to catch the Glowacki V Usyk fight in Poland on the way to Russia for personal reasons, and usually when I go over there it also makes sense to stop off in the land of endless fried breakfasts, late night curries, and double decker buses; London. Seriously, though (so long as you're not in traffic) I like the place. London just happens to be on the way to where I was going, so - whether or not the Brook V Triple fight was on - that was always going to be a destination. But the fact that the Brook V Triple fight was on made sense too. Currently in Russia now, and it's late and cold. Cheers,
Storm. :) :) :)
Enjoy the trip. London sounds like fun, during my time in the service we were always crossing paths with the incorrigible Brits. During a local get together for Uncle Sam's finest and Her Majesty's Royal Navy in New Zealand, the Brits got so blasted they started belly flopping off the high dive,.. Not into the pool, but onto the concrete surrounding the pool, I bet those lads are still feeling that. Lol...its a place I'm sure I'll visit. ( And not for the drunken sailors ) It will be interesting to see how Usyk does in the heavyweight division after he mops up Lebedev. But Im told that Usyk better not fight Lebedev in anything like a hometown match.


-Skibbz :

Enjoy the trip. London sounds like fun, during my time in the service we were always crossing paths with the incorrigible Brits. During a local get together for Uncle Sam's finest and Her Majesty's Royal Navy in New Zealand, the Brits got so blasted they started belly flopping off the high dive,.. Not into the pool, but onto the concrete surrounding the pool, I bet those lads are still feeling that. Lol...its a place I'm sure I'll visit. ( And not for the drunken sailors ) It will be interesting to see how Usyk does in the heavyweight division after he mops up Lebedev. But Im told that Usyk better not fight Lebedev in anything like a hometown match.
Agreed. You only have to look at that Russian cruiser who's name I've forgotten who recently got absolutely smashed, shattered and sent half way to the grave before the referee stopped it. Lebedev won't be stopped unless he truly can't lift his back off the canvas. I don't fancy usyk as a heavyweight personally.. I've seen him fight heavys and he's a lil small for my liking. But the money has returned to the division and there are marketable names his size.


-stormcentre :

Yep, he could possibly grow into a great heavyweight. But right now, all indicators suggest that, Oleksandr Usyk has enormous potential to become an exceptional cruiserweight. Securing the WBO title so soon, and against very good opposition, is in itself a great achievement. I would love to see a match between a fully recovered/prepared Beterbiev and Usyk at the right (cruiser?) weight. Cheers,
Storm.