Usyk Marches On

By Matt McGrain on December 13, 2014
Usyk Marches On
Oleksandr Usyk did a dance of triumph before accepting the congratulations of his corner.

Oleksandr Usyk chalked up his sixth straight stoppage in six dominating wins against a mature fighter of no little guile…

On paper, Oleksandr Usyk looked to have taken a small step down in competition against Danie Venter (now 19-7) tonight in Kiev, Ukraine, but in fact Usyk chalked up his sixth straight stoppage in six dominating wins against a mature fighter of no little guile. Venter may even have won the second round on his way to as hurtful a stoppage as has been perpetrated against him in a cruiserweight division that is becoming as dangerous to dabble in as flyweight, nearly one-hundred pounds to the south.

Uysk enjoyed the bizarre ring entrance that is rapidly becoming de rigueur east of the old Curtain, complete with in-the-ring band and faux monkey-suit apparel, all of which combined to make him appear as honored a nightclub bouncer as has ever lived.  Certainly Venter looked a little perturbed, knowing, as he did, what Usyk is – a stone-cold killer. He has the look of a fighter that cannot fail and with the committed backing of K2 Promotions (Vitali Klitschko was in attendance), the team to deliver on that promise.

The Ukrainian was cat’s paw in the first round, feinting like a ten-year professional after he had settled out of a twitchy opening minute, but did not throw enough punches, allowing an unimpressed Venter to find a snatching rhythm, which he capitalized on in the second. By the fourth, Usyk had warmed to the plan and was snapping sure southpaw jabs off in his opponent’s face and using that surety of footwork to corner rather than escape his game foe. On his front toe with the back-foot often planted, Usyk can drop his lead foot in behind an orthodox opponent’s mirrored leg when he jabs, opening up his man in sick ways while retaining the agility and vision to duck out if he feels heat. Therefore, despite a handicap in handspeed and power, Venter determined to punch with Usyk, acknowledging that the Ukrainian was basically too quick on his feet for tracking, looking instead for counter rights should his man come to mid-range. 

Usyk watched his guard, stayed mobile, and introduced for the first time his straight left. This is a prestigious punch, not deadly, but a significant enhancement of the drip-drip-drip of the jab and by the end of the fifth, Venter’s disintegration had begun. A double straight hook combination in the middle of the sixth marked the South African up for the first time but Usyk looked momentarily startled to be on the receiving end of a counter-surge after that combination, showing, perhaps, an unhealthy admiration for his own work; this is why world-class talents fight journeyman, and hopefully this lesson will be properly absorbed. 

Flatfooted in the eighth, narrow punches laid the groundwork for the stoppage in the ninth; a cuffing hook opening up a straight began the rout, Venter resisting even as be backed to the ropes where Usyk poured on venom. The referee stepped between them just as a stooping uppercut dropped the game South African to one knee, blood dotting the white canvas beneath him. Revived, each step towards his corner aged him a year even as Usyk did a loose-limbed dance of triumph before accepting the congratulations of his corner.

Usyk talks openly of breaking Evander Holyfield’s record of picking up a divisional strap in just his twelfth fight. He may do better to wait. The Ukrainian is clearly old-town tough but he is also still there for punches of middling quality. The trinket he picked up tonight has set him upon the path to WBO titlist Marco Huck. A puncher of not much more than middling quality, Huck brings them over in wrecking ball rushes for sustained periods of pressure that might just test Usyk’s propensity for admiring his work, and for waiting, to breaking point.

In the meantime, the division has a new brightest prospect.

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Александр Усик – Дэни Вентер @ Oleksandr Usyk vs Danie Venter



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  1. The Flea 05:05am, 12/18/2014

    @david gonzalez; that is an absolute joke of an analysis.

  2. david gonzalez 11:13pm, 12/14/2014

    Usyk is a prospect.A killer? nope,he is the classical computer scoring era amateur,bunny hopping around the ring,touch jab,no combinations.

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