Oleksandr Usyk’s top five knockouts ahead of heavyweight debut as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury lie in wait

Oleksandr Usyk takes on replacement opponent Chazz Witherspoon in his heavyweight debut on Saturday night in Chicago.

The unbeaten Ukrainian is seen as one of the biggest potential threats to the established names in the division given the relative ease with which he stormed to the cruiserweight titles.

Oleksandr Usyk plans to dominate the heavyweight division

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Oleksandr Usyk plans to dominate the heavyweight division

Usyk beat every top fighter available, often taking title-holders’ belts in their own territory, as he became the undisputed king at 200lbs.

And like Evander Holyfield and David Haye before him, the 32-year-old is aiming to win a world heavyweight title after succeeding as a cruiserweight.

Of course, there are those who doubt it can be done. The old adage that ‘a good big man will beat a good little man’ has the benefit of being backed up by pure physics.

Usyk stands at around 6ft3in and has a reach of just 78 inches – dwarfed in comparison to Tyson Fury, who boasts a reach of 85 inches.

Both Fury and Wilder would dwarf the 6″3′ Ukrainian

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Both Fury and Wilder would dwarf the 6″3′ Ukrainian

But under the tutelage of Anatoly Lomachenko – father of Vasyl – the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist developed a vast array of skills and tricks that confounded heavy-hitters in the amateur ranks for years.

Below, we take a look at five of the best knockouts from Usyk’s 16-fight professional career.

Number 5: Daniel Bruwer (4/10/14 – Arena Lviv, Ukraine)

Oleksandr Usyk is a threat to every heavyweight on the planet

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Oleksandr Usyk is a threat to every heavyweight on the planet

Usyk claimed his first title as a professional in 2014 after beating South African Daniel Bruwer.

The Ukrainian added the interim WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight belt to his collection of trinkets via a seventh-round stoppage.

During the fight, Bruwer mocked Usyk for his supposed lack of power.

However, the Olympian found a way to break his man down and left him flat on the canvas.

A particular highlight was the use of his lead right hand to pull down on Bruwer’s guard before blasting a devastating hook. Further evidence that brains often beat brawn in this sport.

Number 4: Pedro Rodriguez (12/12/15 – Palace of Sports, Ukraine)

Uysk moved to 9-0 with nine straight knockouts when he destroyed Pedro Rodriguez in his home country.

Rodriguez, a hard-hitting Cuban, could not live with the speed of hand and the footwork of the pugilist perfectionist as the referee stopped the fight in the seventh round.

Usyk started slowly, before loading up on his shots in the third round and letting his hands go with his combinations.

Lomachenko shows off Muay Thai skills after just two lessons a day

Rodriguez put everything into his punches, literally screeching as he threw, but was unable to hurt his opponent.

Usyk’s speed and precision proved to be too much for the bigger man as he was knocked down twice.

Number 3: Marco Huck (9/9/17 – Max-Schmeling-Halle, Germany)

Usyk lands punch on Huck

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Usyk lands punch on Huck

The build-up to Usyk’s World Boxing Super Series clash with Marco Huck was filled with animosity and the Ukrainian delivered a performance to match.

In his first fight, he opted to pick Huck as he was top seed and admitted he was doing so for his fans.

Huck got into Usyk’s face at the weigh-in and appeared to even antagonise the normally composed star, who promised to ‘bury’ the German.

Usyk cruised to victory and displayed tremendous volume in his punching as he chased a finish in the tenth round.

After taunting and playing with Huck, Usyk stepped on the gas and referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight.

Not a brutal one-punch KO but still a very impressive technical knockout.

Number 2: Ben Nsafoah (26/4/14 – Konig Pilsener Arena, Germany)

Usyk dodges a Nsafoah shot across the bow

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Usyk dodges a Nsafoah shot across the bow

In just his third professional fight, Usyk fought away from home as he competed against Ben Nsafoah in his home country.

Admittedly, the German was not meant to pose too many problems for the Olympian.

However, the way in which he handled the powerful puncher was majestic.

After a series of brutal body shots landed in the third round, Usyk alternated between body and head.

As Nsafoah became more and more desperate, the more agile man simply leaned back and executed and beautiful pull counter on the chin.

The punch was accurate, rather than powerful, and by using the German’s momentum against him it duly carried more power.

Number 1: Tony Bellew (10/11/18 – Manchester Arena, England)

Usyk was not supposed to have the power to stop Bellew, but he found a way to grind the ‘Bomber’ down

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Usyk was not supposed to have the power to stop Bellew, but he found a way to grind the ‘Bomber’ down

For British fans, this is likely to be the most iconic moment of Usyk’s career thus far as it was on British soil. It is also likely to be the moment which petrifies the current crop of heavyweight champions.

The Ukrainian arrived on British shores looking to defend all four of the major cruiserweright titles as well as the Ring Magazine belt against a man who had just beaten a former world heavyweight champion – twice.

The stage was set for a classic puncher vs boxer clash, but Bellew’s game plan stunned the world.

Liverpool’s finest showcased his tremendous boxing ability for five rounds and was ahead; something few could have predicted as his rhetoric before the fight was about how hard he could hit in comparison to the champion.

But the challenger was beaten by the better man on the night, with Usyk once again using his footwork to tire Bellew out, before uncorking a devastating left hook to send the Scouser into retirement.

The whole fight can be seen in the video below.

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Boxing – talkSPORT

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