Its a full day of heavyweight action on ESPN platforms this Saturday. It begins with unified champion, Oleksandr Usyk, making a mandatory defense versus Daniel Dubois in Poland on ESPN+. Then from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jared Anderson faces Andriy Rudenko as the main event on the four letter network.
If it seems as though we haven't seen Usyk(who has the IBF, WBA and WBO belts around his waist) in awhile. Well, it's because it's been over a full year since he last saw action. It was August 20 of last year when he defeated Anthony Joshua for a second time in Jeddah.
The hope was coming into 2023 was that he would then face WBC champion, Tyson Fury. For months it seemed as though the two sides bickered publicly over the negotiations centered around that fight for undisputed honors. Generally when fight talks are so public, it means that the other side is really placing blame on the other for a bout that will not take place.
courtesy of Piotr Duszczyk
Which is precisely what took place here. Fury is facing mixed martial artist, Francis Ngannou in late October, while Usyk -- who is the Ring Magazine heavyweight champion -- takes care of his WBA mandatory this weekend. The hope is that this highly anticipated clash will take place in the first quarter of '24.
So for the time being, Usyk(20-0, 13 KOs) has to get past the big-boned and burly, Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs), who is certainly the naturally bigger man, and the heavier puncher of the two. There is some element of danger in this fight given Dubois power.
But on the flip side, what concerns you about him is that in his only loss he was stopped by the ponderous Joe Joyce back in 2020, and in his last outing against Kevin Lerena(who just happens to be a left-hander) back in December, he hit the deck three time in the first round before rallying to score a third round stoppage. There's no doubting his ability to pitch. You just wonder how well he catches.
On the other hand, Usyk is now 'very feel' as a heavyweight, after coming to this division four fights ago, after becoming the undisputed cruiserweight king and then dispatching Tony Bellew in devastating fashion to clear up any claims about who truly ruled that weight class. He's also the ultimate pro, who unlike Dubois, has never had an issue dealing with adversity that comes his way.
courtesy of Piotr Duszczyk
The only way he can lose this fight is if he overlooked Dubois. But based on past history, that's unlikely. All he ever does is just show up and get the job done. “My preparation is all good. We did a lot of work with swimming. We played football. We danced," said the man of a few words.
After all this takes place, 'Big Baby' Anderson makes a quick turnaround. Back on July 1, he had some rough moments against former world titlist, Charles Martin, getting buzzed twice in what was his homecoming in Toledo, Ohio.
While he won handily, he was hurt for the first time in his professional career. There's two ways to look at this episode. Some will say that this was a character building experience to which to build from. While the more cynical observers will state that Anderson got exposed a bit. Only time will tell. But Anderson is still by far the best pure American heavyweight prospect in a long while.
Even with his relative lack of experience (Anderson's record is 15-0, 14 KOs), is rated number 10 by Ring Magazine. Top Rank and Anderson's handlers made the prudent decision to bring him right back.
“It was easy to get back into things after my last fight," said Anderson. "We never stop, really. We might have taken a week off, but then we went right back to it. We took our time by sharpening our skills before sparring. But everything was great. We’re ready to go to work.”
In the 39 year old Rudenko (35-6, 21 KOs) he's facing an experienced trial horse, who should give him a few rounds, but more than that, a chance to regain any confidence that may have been lost against Martin.
“This Saturday you will see me sticking to my plan," said Anderson. "I’ll be using my jab, my speed. I’m always willing to do whatever I need to do in order to win. And I will continue being who I am because I am great.”
This weeks edition of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and I, features undisputed welterweight champion, Terence Crawford, and our very own Victor Conte!!! Here's the YouTube link to the show:
And to subscribe to '3KR' on your preferred podcast platform, hit the Linktree:
Usyk-Dubois will be a special one-fight broadcast on ESPN+ that will begin at 5 pm, ET/2 pm, PT....Meanwhile, the broadcast coverage from Tulsa will begin at 6:50 pm, ET/3:50 pm, PT with the likes of Bruce 'Shu Shu' Carrington, Abdullah Mason, Nico Ali Walsh and Jeremiah Milton, among others... Then on the main ESPN portion of the show, heavyweights Efe Ajagba and Zhan Kossobutskiy...Also, Top Rank announced that the bout between Bakhodir Jalolov-Onoriode Ehwareime will be on their YouTube channel at 6:15 pm, ET/3:15 PT.....Yes, I'm ready for Week O college football....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org......