Last year, Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) unified all the major titles in the cruiserweight division to become the undisputed champion. Now the Ukrainian star has his sights set on conquering the heavyweight landscape.
It was officially announced on Friday that Usyk will face former title challenger Carlos Takam (36-5-1, 28 KOs) on May 25th at the MGM Grand Harbor in Maryland. The card will stream live exclusively on DAZN, although viewers in the United Kingdom can watch it through Sky Sports.
Usyk competed in season one of the World Boxing Super Series tournament, possessing the WBO title he won from Krzysztof Glowacki in 2016. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist stopped former champ Marco Huck in the quarterfinals in 2017, then in 2018 he won the WBC title from Mairis Briedis in a thrilling semifinal that saw Usyk take a majority decision, then he completely outclassed Murat Gassiev in the final to win the tournament and capture all four titles. To cap off his brilliant year, he traveled to England and knocked out former WBC champion Tony Bellew in the eighth round. Adding in his decision win vs. Michael Hunter before entering the WBSS, Usyk has five straight victories over his opponents in their respective home countries.
Takam is a veteran gatekeeper of sorts in the heavyweight ranks. The 38-year-old Cameroonian is coming off a TKO win over Senad Gashi last December, which stopped a two-fight losing skid. He was stopped by Anthony Joshua in a fight that Takam took on short notice, although the stoppage itself was arguably early. Takam then took on Dereck Chisora in an all-out war, which he was in control of before Chisora rallied back and knocked him out. He notably gave Alexander Povetkin a very competitive bout before being KO’d in round ten, and went the distance with former champion Joseph Parker. His notable wins include ex-title challenger Tony Thompson and Michael Grant.
This is a solid matchup for Usyk’s HW debut. Takam isn’t a serious contender but he is a fun fighter to watch, and Usyk will likely want to really impress at his new weight class if he aims to face the likes of Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury in 2020. With Usyk and Joshua both promoted by Matchroom Boxing, that fight would most likely be the easiest to make should Usyk and Joshua continue to win their bouts.