In the WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight title fight on September 25, challenger Oleksandr Usyk beat triple crown champion Anthony Joshua by a 3-0 decision to become the new champion. Usyk won belts from all four major organizations, plus the WBC, on July 21, 2018 at cruiserweight, one class below, and defended that unified title once before moving up to heavyweight. After defending the unified title once, he moved up to the heavyweight division. He is a Ukrainian southpaw who is aiming for the top of the boxing world, the unified title in the heaviest division.
“Usyk’s first fight at heavyweight will be against my nephew, Chaz. Chaz has been a heavyweight since his debut, and he’s a size bigger than Usyk, so I was hoping I could push him with my power, but he was one step ahead of me.
That’s what Tim Wetherspoon, WBC and WBA heavyweight champion in 1984 and 1986, respectively, said.
“Usyk is a London Olympic heavyweight gold medalist with a solid foundation. He has good rhythm and balance, and his straight left is very powerful. Whenever he hits, he always back-steps to keep his distance. The difference between him and Chaz was his footwork.
I knew that footwork was going to be the key in my third fight against Joshua after moving up to heavyweight.
Joshua wanted a four-team unification fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury instead of a defense against Usyk. Fury had won by KO in his rematch with Deontay Wilder, whom he had drawn in the past, in February of this year, and Europe was excited about a heavyweight unification fight between the two Brits.
However, Wilder insisted on his right to do so in his contract for the second fight with Fury, which included the sentence “In the event of his defeat, he shall be given the opportunity to regain the title before anyone else. He used the legal effect to put Joshua vs.
“I’m more interested in the British unification fight than the third fight on the same card. But it’s a world where fighters don’t always get what they want. With the Fury fight out of the way, Joshua may have lost some motivation. But even so, when you get in the ring, you have to beat the opponent in front of you or you won’t get rich. I’m a good example.”
Tim was a skilled fighter, but he hadn’t achieved much to show for it. He lost the WBC title in his first defense and the WBA title in his second.
“It took me a long time to get over it, but I really hated my promoter, Don King, at that time. I had to sign a blank contract in order to get the fight. At one point, King took 90% of the fight money announced in the media. Even though I was the world heavyweight champion, I was just a slave to be exploited. I think I was more like a racehorse being run until it was useless than a slave.
The players now have wisdom. After my legal battle with Don King, everyone understood that a boxer needs a good lawyer. But until you can afford the legal fees, you’re still being used. Wilder consulted a professional lawyer, and that’s why he’s getting another big fight.
Even after he retired from the world scene, Tim decided that getting in the ring was the quickest way to support his four children, so he stayed in the ring until he was 45.
“The other day, Joshua looked lackluster. Maybe he was licking his chops at Usyk because he was a lower class competitor.
While Usyk is the heavyweight gold medalist at the London Olympics, Joshua won the gold medal in the super heavyweight division at the same Olympics.
“Joshua has lost to safe challenger Andy Ruiz by KO in the past, right? If he gets loose in the ring, he’s not going to win. That’s what happened in the fight where I lost my belt.
Andy Ruiz was an obese fighter with a noticeable triple belly. Joshua’s pride was understandable, as his body was too flabby to be considered a boxer. However, he lost by KO in the seventh round, which severely lowered his value.
“He came back in the rematch, but Lewis’ body was even more bloated after a life of partying. I don’t blame Joshua for not being able to beat Lewis in that condition and letting the fight drag on to a decision. It was a question mark for the best heavyweight in the world.
And now this. Joshua was completely unprepared for the southpaw. He was in a position where he was getting hit with straight lefts. His hips were high and he needed to work on his knees more. I had a four-inch reach advantage, but I couldn’t take advantage of it. In the sixth round, I probably hit him with a single straight right and left hook. I had to take that chance and finish him at once. That’s where I look at Joshua.”
The challenger, meanwhile, was shaking his head as he closed the distance and hit a straight left in the last minute of the seventh to bring the champion to his feet.
“Usyk is a smart fighter. He knows how small he is. He’s a smart fighter, he knows how small he is, he doesn’t jump in and he’s good at keeping himself out of range of his opponent’s punches. He is a good defender. It’s no wonder he’s the heavyweight champion with a 19-0 record and 13 KOs.
Tim also talked about Fury and Wilder, who will face each other for the WBC title on October 9.
“Fury has a lot of mental energy coming off a knockout win in February. He’ll be confident and bang from the first round. Wilder, on the other hand, has a destructive straight right hand and has defended the WBC title 10 times. He has defended the WBC title 10 times in his career, but I don’t think the damage has been done yet, both physically and mentally.
He’s 42-1-1 since his pro debut. The two fights you didn’t win were against Fury, right? He didn’t let me box the way I wanted to box. Wilder is not a good defender. I think he’s always believed that offense is the best defense. But that’s not how boxing is supposed to work. He needs to learn to dodge punches with a head slip. I could say the same thing about Joshua.”
Tim, ranked #9 in the IBF at the age of 45, was a boxer who could not be beaten. He was a true defensive master.
“I have seen many great champions who have made a name for themselves, but after they retire, they can no longer speak properly or are suffering from punch drunk. I want to say this to the current fighters. Don’t get hit in boxing. You have to work on your defense. If you need help, I’m always here to help. I’m making a living as a trainer now.
Tim listed his best bout as the July 19, 1986 bout against Frank Bruno, when he won the WBA heavyweight title and made his first defense in London. He won a fierce fight and KO’d Bruno in the 11th round.
At the time, Bruno was the most popular boxer in the UK, more so than any other athlete in the sport. It was a victory that shattered the dreams of British fans, but it also solidified Tim’s reputation. Since his retirement, he has taken on more work as a trainer in England than in his native United States.
“On October 9, I was approached by a TV station in England to be a commentator for the Fury vs. I’ll be sitting in the booth for the live broadcast. I’m going to talk about the importance of defense there, too.
Me and Larry Holmes fought during the period between Muhammad Ali’s departure and Mike Tyson’s rise to stardom, and I think the fighters back then were at a higher level than the current fighters. Again, you’ve got a long life ahead of you after you retire, so you’ve got to learn how to dodge your punches and not take damage.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a heavyweight fighter of this caliber. It’s been almost 20 years since we’ve had a “short on belt, long on sash” situation, with a lackluster champion taking over. Fans are hungry to see the passionate fights that only the heavyweight division can offer.
Who will be the one to unite the four organizations?
On October 9, we can expect to see commentator Tim Wetherspoon in the WBC heavyweight title match.
Reporting and writing by： Soichi Hayashi